© February 17, 2018 | Schulter Etyang
You ought to have seen me six or seven years back. I was stoic, tense, efficient and “wise”. Wise (quote unquote) on the grounds that it was untested learning. I knew a lot since I read a great deal. I was so glad on the off-chance that you discovered I was serious and focused. Goodness man, I went to heaven when I heard that. I cherished it when somebody said to me, “You are so wise and savvy for your age”. Goodness, I cherished that. That was music to my ears.
I had a sharp, noisy and snide chuckle. Be that as it may, it wasn’t genuine delight. I snickered to give the feeling that I was keen on what somebody was stating despite the fact that I was absent in the discussion. My sharp, boisterous and mocking snicker was an act – an act learnt from motivational books, speakers and classes that instructed what I expected to do to pick up companions and impact individuals. You know those, right?
I had to be profound. In many discussions, I kept mum, however, in my psyche, I’d be considered a reaction that would make me sound profound and intriguing. I used to have distinct responses to nearly everything and anything – or so I thought. That was me.
Why wasn’t I joyful?
I had bought into the idea that I was here on earth on a mission. I was here to serve, fulfil my purpose and reach my destiny. My study was full of books that taught how to unlock potential and live your dreams.
My understanding of God was this – a demanding and narcissistic being who demanded from me all that I am and have. I had to live for and please him at all times. In my mind, I thought, you have to grit your teeth and clench your fist as you pursue God’s purpose and destiny. I was too serious, man. Too serious. However, my life was staved off of joy – real and intense delight.
That was before I met the gospel. Grace unravelled me. Grace saw through my pessimism, cynicism and indifference and punched a hole right through. Grace began teaching me to laugh heartily and joyously.
As I looked at scripture through the eyes of Jesus and his finished work for me – the gospel of grace, I began to realize, wait a minute, even Jesus himself was a joyous person. Jesus was anointed with the oil of joy more than anyone else. (Psalm 45:7, Hebrews 1:9) The Hebrew and Greek words for joy, both define joy as brightness, cheerfulness, rejoicing, etc.
The first miracle Jesus did, he turned water into wine. (John 2:1-11). Wine represents celebration, joy, and having a good time. Graham Norton the host of the hugely popular, award-winning show, The Graham Norton Show, has said many times that in order to get his celebrity guests to talk and enjoy themselves, he usually gives them wine, cocktails, beers or their favourite drinks to get them to loosen up. Even the world knows that wine or drinks get the party going.
Why I am joyful
Then I also saw this,
Isaiah 53:3 (NLT)
He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with the deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.
Jesus became a man of sorrows. I saw this and went like wow, wait a minute. Jesus was despised and rejected – a man of sorrows. So why was I a joyless Christian? I had not fully considered this truth. Jesus bore my sorrows on himself on the cross, so that I would be filled with His joy. (John 17:13) It then occurred to me that a sad and joyless Christian is a paradoxical being. He or she is a being that does not exist.
A sad and joyless Christian is a paradoxical being. He or she is a being that does not exist. Even if they exist, they are an engineered species of some sorts.
These days, Jenny and I laugh so much that we irritate each other. Bliss and chuckling are so much a part of our life. We must even be cautious that we don’t sound flaky when we meet our friends and family. Oh yes, we know that Christianity is a battleground. We know that. There are evil powers out to take, murder and wreck us. But hello, Christianity also a party, dance and celebration.
Glorious gospel of the happy God
1 Timothy 1:11 (Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible)
According to the glad-message of the glory of the happy God, with which entrusted am, I.
Indeed, even our God is makarios – happy. The glorious gospel comes from a happy God. If the gospel comes from a happy God, then the gospel should invoke the heartiest laughter from a satisfied heart. A heart that knows it will never at any point be held in judgment. A heart that has been captivated and enticed by the glorious gospel. The more I drank from the wells of joy, the more my life has become joyous.
I did not often watch Marvel comics, animations or stand up comedies. I always watched deep psychological thrillers or science fiction movies that got my thinking juices flowing. Not so much now. Animations, Marvel comics, and stand up comedies are my thing (even ones that have a bit of colourful language).
My prayer life is filled with joy and adoration for the one who became a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief for me so that I can be joyful. The Lord’s Supper for me has become a time to remember that all of God’s anger against my sin was poured on Jesus and all of God’s joy was poured on me. He took my sorrows upon himself and gave me His joy.
Am I still “deep and profound”? Goodness yes. Or then again so I want to think. I love reading and thinking deeply. Be that as it may, my “profundity” is now tempered with grace. I am still deep, but also deeply joyful. Deeply joyful because Jesus became deeply sorrowful for me.
That’s what grace looks like