Some of the funnest things I’ve ever done have been within the context of Christianity. No joke. Like, one time, I drove to Nashville in the middle of the night to help a friend return a laptop to his girlfriend. Then, just a couple of weeks later, I drove to Nashville in the middle of the night again to drop some missionaries off at the airport there. But not all of my fun involved driving somewhere at night. I did other things, things that made a difference in people’s lives and caused me great joy.
One of my favorite bloggers and authors, Jon Acuff, makes me laugh. His blog gets serious, but it also includes many things that I can’t help but post to Facebook and tweet about. Recently, he wrote an article for the CNN Religion blog. This is typically a minefield, basically a disaster waiting to happen because of the content being so divisive or controversial. But Jon did nothing of the sort. He actually wrote a very good piece about God being a God of love. In it, he referred to the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15, which is a great story about a father greeting his son with sacrificial love when he returns home from a time of squandering wealth and disappointment. If you want the story of God and man in one short story, there it is. Check it out if you haven’t. Anyway, Jon wrote about this love and how the father threw a party for the lost son instead of condemning him.
Jon then said that this is like our God. Throwing parties instead of condemnation and shame? Sounds about right, regardless of what you heard in church growing up. As I read this article, I agreed with Jon. Then I did something that sometimes makes me mad…I scrolled through the comments.
I couldn’t believe it. People had a problem with a loving God! It was strange to me, since this article was a breath of fresh air from what many grew up in church hearing. Then, I saw a comment that made me stop and think. Just one line that packs so much into it:
“We go to church to worship God the Holy Trinity. You shouldn’t find ‘fun’ there, but repentance, joy, and peace.”
Woah. I reread it multiple times. In this simple statement is so much hurt, anger, and misguided belief. I’m curious as to what happened to make this person say this. Did the pastor or minister really preach this? Did the church practice this? And what’s not fun about repentance, joy, and peace? Especially joy! Isn’t joy a leading cause of fun? Anyway you look at it, it still blows my mind.
What is the truth here? I’m not the end-all, and I know everyone can chip in on this, but here are some thoughts that resonate with me after reading this comment.
If being a Christian doesn’t have a degree of “fun” to it, I’m not sure if I want to deal with it. Who in their right mind would do something that has absolutely no potential of having at least a little bit of enjoyment, if not forced? Don’t get me wrong, we all do things we don’t want to do. But that’s usually something like taking out the trash or doing laundry. It’s a small task that must be done. But to sign my entire life up for something that yields no joy? I’m not sure if I want in that. But here’s the fact: I am a Christian. And I enjoy it. And I have fun. Even while in church, worshiping a God who threw a party for me when I came back home. What’s not to love about this picture? Church, done right, should be one of the most satisfying times for a person because you are communing with God and with others. There’s absolutely nothing better than that.
Churches and church leaders have a huge responsibility. This should go without saying, but if there are Christians walking around defeated, it’s because there are churches and church leaders who act defeated. This is the same for people who don’t have “fun” while worshiping. This is probably because their church really isn’t fun. For anyone. It’s time for churches and leaders to step up and show what “life to the full” looks like, as Jesus described in John 10:10.
Jesus said that Christians should have life to the fullest extent. Jesus made it clear in John 10:10. He was comparing what the mission of satan was, to his mission. He clearly states the mission of the previous was to steal, kill, and destroy. But the mission of Jesus? It’s so people might have life, and have it to the full. This means that life to the fullest extent should be the life of every Christian. Think of the last Christian you talked to, apart from yourself if you’re in that boat. Would you say their life is being lived to the fullest extent? I’m afraid that there are more people who would say “no” to that than “yes.” What’s the problem? I venture to say that it is a lack of fun. If life is being lived to the fullest extent, it’s going to be fun.
Repentance, joy, and peace are fun. This is simple. Repentance means turning from the things that you were once in. Things that might have been fun. And therein lies the problem for too many Christians. Becoming a follower of Jesus means trading in fun for listening to only Christian music in the car, carrying around a Bible, and wearing cheesy t-shirts. I know that’s an overused example, but too many people believe it. What actually happens is you trade in empty fun for fun to the fullest extent. Oh, did I not mention it? Jesus came that we may have life to the fullest extent. That means fun to the fullest extent. Peace to the fullest extent. Joy to the fullest extent.
Statements like the comment above drive people to do crazy things, like plant churches. Ever wonder why there is an abundance of church plants and revived established churches recently? People need to know that comments like the one above are not OK. In fact, they’re wrong. Not in a shameful way, but in a misguided way.
So, let’s have some fun, OK?