Images of horrific, gratuitous violence and suffering permeate our world. At the same time, images of inane, “anything goes” euphoria suck our collective attention spans. It is almost as if we feel like we need to counter the negative stuff all around us with equally extreme ecstasy in order to balance it out.
There is a more excellent way.
The “church’s marching orders” listed in Galatians 5 include “gentleness” and “joy.” The two ideas intertwine quite well, for joy is not a shallow, chipper glee but rather a deep, abiding gentle satisfaction of the soul.
For example, consider sports. I am a fanatic of the Kansas City Royals. (You probably didn’t know that about me; I try to keep it a secret.) Rooting for the Royals is fun this year. It can bring a smile to my lips and a cheer to my throat. It brings me glee, but it does not bring me joy.
Playing with our two-year-old so that he gets to giggling uncontrollably with his big belly laugh, dimples on full display, eyes twinkling … now THAT brings me joy. Watching our daughter perform on stage; listening to our son describe the world he is creating in his imagination; hearing my wife sing … joy, joy, joy!
Experiencing the grace of God made known through the selfless love of others ... JOY!
The way to counteract the horrific suffering and violence that permeates the world is not via shallow, frivolous escape into silliness. Rather, the way is Christ’s way. The way is Christ. Christ who calls, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Gentless. Joy. Forward, march!