2007-12-22 - Be Happy
Ezra 3:12, "Many shouted aloud for joy."
I am reading a book this month by Iain Murray, titled A Scottish Christian Heritage. As much as I am enjoying the book, I am not here to plug books. However, there is a line in it that stood out and seemed instructive, beyond the narrow context within which it is found in Murray's work. Part of a sentence found on page 235 says, "...a religion that made people happy was entirely new to them." Some background might be helpful to understanding this.
Murray is writing a chapter about Scottish missionary endeavors in the New Hebrides, and specifically on the island of Aneityum. The names are really not as important, as much as his explanation of the darkness of the religious practices before they had the Gospel preached to them. Murray says, "...the people were naked to the powers of darkness." They believed there were evil spirits in the stones that they worshipped, and these ruled their lives. "Human life was valued no more highly than the life of a pig; abortion was commonplace..." Such was the state of Aneityum before the Gospel of salvation came to them. But the people of Aneityum received the Gospel in the mid-19th century, and it became a mission hub to the surrounding islands. One time, Murray wrote, "When a large canoe of heathen natives stopped at Aneityum on one occasion, the visitors were astonished at what they heard and what they saw: a religion that made people happy was entirely new to them."
Are you happy? Does your faith make you happy? Do you look forward to living each day, serving the living God? Do you seek out times to pray with the saints of God in your family, among your close friends, within your local body of Christian fellowship? Is it a joy to you, to speak with others about the preciousness of Christ to you? Do you bubble Jesus? Do you long for the Lord's Day each week, where you can gather with God's people, and worship the living God? Is this your experience? Does your religion make you happy, or is the concept entirely new to you?
These heathens in the canoe found a religion that made people happy, when they visited the newly converted people of Aneityum. If I were to visit your house, would I find that same religion under your roof? There should be joy in living for Christ. Fellowship with Christ, true fellowship, brings joy to the believing soul. Communion with the Lord is pleasure - even bliss - to His saints and children. I'm not pretending that every day is, or should be, a carnival - but is the overall tenor of your life a life of joy? I pray that it is. Life in Christ should bring us blessings, and freedom from sin. It should bring us happiness.
Murray makes another observation that I thought was helpful. He noted the significance of the priority of Scripture in the lives of those who knew and experienced an active, soldier-like following of Jesus Christ. Scripture was prominent in their lives. They were people of the Book. If you lack joy in Christ, may I suggest that you take the time to make the Book more of a priority in your life. It takes five minutes to read a chapter, ten to read and pray. Who has not ten minutes a day, to give to the One who gave His all (His very life) to redeem their soul?
Soli Deo Gloria,