Yesterday’s post, “Happiness is a Choice, spoke to the importance of true happiness. Not a pseudo happiness based on the world’s definition, but a happiness that is spiritually focused. Biblically-based. And God directed.
Today I want to share a piece written from a little different angle by Rubel Shelly. While my views on some other spiritual matters might differ from Shelly’s , I found this interesting, insightful and challenging. I hope you do too!
It seems easy for some to forget that Christianity was formed in the womb of Judaism. My faith was born into first-century Hebrew culture. It was received and interpreted to us by apostles and evangelists who knew Jesus in the context of his Jewishness. Yet most of us know the Christian faith as it has been passed through the vocabulary, culture, and mindset of Greco-Roman culture. So what?
One of the major “so-whats” is the difference the two mindsets take toward material things. The human body in particular. And pleasure.
Greek religion and philosophy separate material and spiritual, body and soul in a way foreign to Judaism. Hebrew thought sees persons as “living souls” in their totality. The invisible, spiritual part of a person is not trapped in a body (i.e., the Greek idea) but is made real and functional by means of it. Thus the goal is not to escape or to chastise the body but to direct its energy God-ward.
Pleasure is not wicked. Laughter is God’s gift. But that is hardly the notion most non-Christians reflect back to believers. They see us as a pretty joyless crowd. Rather prune-faced. Far more inclined to scowl than to laugh.
We seem to have worked hard to create that unhealthy – and equally uninviting – image. Our “saints” tend to be dour rather than smiling. Austere over lovable. Rigid and forbidding, not humane and merciful. What a pity!
Jesus went to parties. He enjoyed life so much that his critics tried to make him out to be a drunk and a glutton. He had lots of friends. Enjoyed eating in others’ company. And made people feel comfortable around him. Can’t you just see him now, raising a glass to say, “L’chaim”? To life!
A long list of negatives is a poor way to define the gospel. The very idea of “redemption” is less about going to heaven when we die than making life here something positive and holy. Paul says Jesus “gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age” (Galatians 1:4). Peter reminds Christians “that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you” (1 Peter 1:18).
Steak, golf, sunsets, music, sex, money – not one is unholy. All are given by God to meet human needs. Directed toward him, each is both a celebration of his goodness and a participation in his fullness. Divorced from him, both pleasure and pain become vulgar. Not the act, but its God-ward direction makes it holy.
In a world of wrinkled brows and wringing hands, one has to wonder if the rediscovery of godly joy might be our best advertisement for the faith we profess.
Today let’s reflect our holiness in our happiness and enjoyment of life. Be salt. Be light. Be happy. Live holy. With that spirit we can “be the good news.” It will create a more receptive environment when we “share the good news.” And personally we will experience the fullness of life that Jesus promised! (John 10:10)
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman
2 responses to “Happiness and Holiness Go Together”
Unrelated question to your above blog. The History Channel has a new documentary series airing this weekend: Bible Secrets Unveiled — Lost in Translation. You can pre-view online: http://www.history.com/shows/bible-secrets-revealed/videos/bible-secrets-revealed-lost-in-translation?m=5189717d404fa&s=All&f=1&free=false
Two questions: (1) What do you “think” generally of programs like this? If Christians do watch, as a “teacher” we trust, should we have any “faith mind-set context” as we watch? (2) What do you think of the opinion (undisputed by Biblical scholars on the program) that the “ending” of the Book of Mark on Christ’s resurrection (past Chp. 16) was a “add-on” to the original Book of Mark? That the original Book of Mark just abruptly ended.
1. I like them. But I’m a visual person. I do caution people to look for any Biblical inaccuracies. 2. I accept the entire chapter 16 of Mark in the original cannon.