Confession 458: If You’re Happy and You Know It…

What a beautiful sight! On the mountains a messenger announces to Jerusalem, “Good news! You’re saved. There will be peace.

“You’re going to complain tomorrow about it being dark again in the morning.” This was my husband yesterday at church, just after he told me about the beautiful moonscape he had seen driving to church after Daylight Savings Time began.

“No, I’m not, “I countered. “I’ve already committed to having a positive attitude tomorrow morning.” Truth be told, I’d already complained about the fact that it would be dark again on my daily walk to the bus stop at 6:40 A.M with our eldest. And, as I groaned to my eleven-year-old who was sitting in the backseat and would be completely unaffected by this change in sunlight circumstances, I realized that I was setting a truly terrible example. My son did not hesitate to point that out, by the way. It seems that no one in our house is afraid of sharing opinions…

Complaining is a habit it is all too easy to acquire. When you look around at the world, there’s a lot about which we might complain. But, what if our complaining actually cheapens the gospel message?

This past week, my women’s Bible study group began a video study by Beth Moore entitled Taking Happy Back. It’s a free study on her YouTube channel, and you can find it here. The essential takeaway from this study is that we’re called to be a people of Good News. And yet, as a people, we seem devoted to living in a state of misery. How can we share good news from a place of misery? How can we make new disciples of Christ if our lives do not mirror the words of hope and peace that we proclaim? We can’t…and there’s the problem. We cannot share the good news of Christ with others from a place of misery. 

Sit on that statement for a minute, because this really convicted me on a lot of different levels.

We cannot share the good news of Christ with others from a place of misery.

In Isaiah 52, the prophet notes that the feet of the one brining good news are beautiful. This is because the one bringing the good news isn’t just telling people about the good news, he or she is showing, by example, what that good news looks like. The beautiful-footed messenger is physically carrying the good news of God’s salvation to those who desperately need to hear it.

In the New Testament, Jesus becomes the embodiment of this good news carrier. Jesus doesn’t just tell people about God’s love and salvation, he shows them. He walks throughout the countryside healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and even raising the dead. He is questioned. He is challenged. He is threatened. And yet, his message remains one of hope…a message of good news in both word and deed. Jesus doesn’t sit down with the disciples and complain about how challenging ministry is. He doesn’t gossip over dinner about which disciples are not pulling their weight. He doesn’t brood over the wrongs others have inflicted on him. He just keeps teaching and loving.

Jesus’s message of good news thrived because he lived it out. And my friends, I’m not sure we’re doing the same. I’m not sure we, as Jesus followers, are intentionally seeking to live an a way that is counter to what we see in our culture. We’re mean to each other, often using social media as a tool to divide rather than unite. We live in a state of entitlement, thinking that life owes us something because we work hard or push through. We judge others because it makes us feel better about ourselves, because it’s so much easier to find fault in someone else rather than ourselves. And, we are taught from an early age that any problem can be solved if you just consume more.

If we live according to the rules and mores of our culture, then we cannot effectively share the good news as Jesus taught us to do. It’s not believable. How can we talk about the great hope of Christ in one breath, then complain about the state of our world in the next? How can we speak a message of forgiveness while we hold grudges toward those who have hurt us? How can we teach others about God’s love while we tear others down for thinking differently than we do?

We cannot share the good news of Christ with others from a state of misery.

So, how do we engage the good news in a culture that seems to grow more miserable by the minute? The gospel of Mark offers us this piece of advice:

“Now is the time! Here comes God’s kingdom! Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news!”

Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news!

If we truly want to live into our calling as disciples of Christ, then we must commit to change. We must willingly undergo a change of heart that then is evidenced through our actions. This means choosing joy over discouragement. It means choosing forgiveness over anger. It means choosing to see someone through the eyes of love rather than a seat of judgement. It means choosing to turn our focus from the negative to the positive.

This doesn’t mean we need to be stupidly happy. Ecclesiastes reminds us that there is a time for all circumstances, including a time to mourn, a time to be angry, and a time There’s also a time to genuinely worry and be concerned about situations. However, in the midst of our challenging circumstances, we must also be committed to trust. We must acknowledge our fears, our grief, our anger and give them to God, trusting his good news!

In this second week of Lent, I would challenge each of us to consider whether or not our lives truly reflect the good news of Christ. If not, what changes can we make to be a better witness? The world is in desperate need of a savior…and we have one in Jesus Christ.

Blessings and Peace,