I want you to imagine children playing in the park for just a minute. Picture a beautiful spring day. The weather is perfect, the sun is shining, and the children don’t have a care in the world. They are just having fun.
Imagine what it looks like to see the children smiling as they swing through the perfect spring air. Imagine the sound of laughter as the children run through the open field playing together. Picture in your head an image of children digging their hands in the sand as they build a fortress or a house for their doll.
Can you see the park, the children, and the smiles in your head right now? Good. Hold onto that image.
Now, I want you to think back to the last time you were walking out of a church service. I want you to try as hard as you can to remember the people around you as you were walking out the doors of church. Work hard to recall the look on their faces as they were walking out.
Can you see their faces? Good.
Now it’s time to compare these two mental images. Do the faces of the people leaving church look anything like those children playing on the playground? When you see Christians practicing their faith, does it look like they’re having fun?
I want to use this article to explain the joy of following Jesus. If you’re a Christian and your faith hasn’t been much fun lately, I hope this will help you find the joy again in following Jesus.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “You do you”? The idea beneath this phrase is that every person is unique. The phrase wouldn’t work if it said, “You do her,” or “You do him”. I don’t often use this phrase, but when I do, I’m trying to give people the permission and encouragement to simply be themselves.
It feels like we live in a world where people are telling us how to act and what to do. Those rules can become a terrible burden. All of us are attracted to people who enjoy life. When I think about it, the people I know who have most joy in their lives are those most comfortable with being themselves.
It’s hard to have fun while pretending to be someone you’re not.
“You do you” should have special meaning to Christians, because as followers of Jesus, we don’t have to try to be someone we’re not. In fact, the basis for the Christian faith is that Christians cannot become something that they are not. Only God can do that kind of work in a Christian’s life.
Jesus use the imagery of a shepherd taking care of his sheep in John 10:14: “I know my sheep, and my sheep know me.” You don’t have to pretend with God. (It’s not like you could trick God anyway.) He knows you completely and intimately. That’s why Jesus’ people have no need to pretend around each other.
Jesus knows you. He knows your mistakes and failures and loves you anyway. So, you have no need to pretend in church. You are free to enjoy yourself at church. If you can’t “do you” at church, then something is wrong. If you want to know more about how you can have joy and still struggle with personal problems, check out this article.
I let someone else have my joy
There was a point in my life (not that long ago) when I dreaded going to work in the morning. For most of my life, I had fun at work. (I realize that “work” is a 4-letter word to many people, but I genuinely enjoyed my job). I could work tirelessly all day long, provided that I was having fun at work.
Don’t get the wrong impression; having fun at work doesn’t mean an easy job in a great work environment. For most of my career in the United States Army, my job was physically demanding, dangerous, and emotionally exhausting…but it was also fun.
Having fun was at the top of my professional goals list most years of my Army career. I learned how to have fun while being cold, tired, hungry, and under hostile enemy fire at the same time. When I transitioned into a new vocation (which wasn’t as dangerous or as difficult), it should’ve been much more fun, right? –But it wasn’t!
It was difficult for me to recognize why my new vocation wasn’t fun. It took a lot of soul-searching to recognize that I wasn’t having fun in the relative safety of an office in the US like I had on distant battlefields. My job wasn’t fun, because I wasn’t being myself. I was allowing other people to put their expectations on me… and I was miserable.
I have no one else to blame for this mistake but myself. The reason I wasn’t having fun at work anymore is because I let someone else have control over my joy, and I let them have a voice over how I should do my job and what kind of man I was becoming.
I went home late last night exhausted after a long day of work, but I had fun! In fact, I said a little prayer on the drive home thanking God for the fun that I had during this long, hard day at work.
Please learn a lesson from my mistake: Don’t let someone place his or her expectations on you. Don’t give in to their expectations. Don’t let someone rob you of your joy by trying to meet their expectations. There’s nothing fun about that kind of life. Don’t hand the joy that Jesus put in you to anyone else (John 15:11).
No worries, Mate!
You are free to be yourself as a Christian. Because they don’t have to hide anything from God or others, Christians should be known for their joy. This should give you the freedom to have fun in your own skin.
But there’s another source of joy that Christians have which other don’t… HOPE! Psalm 20:7 puts it this way: Some people will trust in chariots and horses, but God’s people take pride in him.
I probably don’t need to remind you that chariots breakdown, and horses die. Anything that I place my trust in apart from God will ultimately let me down at some point. There is no source our eternal hope apart from the Lord Jesus Christ!
This is essential to the Christian’s joy. Christians have nothing to worry about because our God has us in the palm of his hand. True, deep joy is found in that kind of rock-solid hope. A man or woman can have fun today when he or she doesn’t have worry about tomorrow. Jesus is the source of genuine joy. It’s why Christians sing, “Joy to the world; the Lord has come.”
Let’s get serious about having fun
I believe we need to get serious about having fun! I am convinced, that God wants his people to enjoy their relationship with him. Yes, sometimes bad things happen. Sure, sometimes life gets difficult. This doesn’t mean that God is mad at you.
We all have good days and bad days in life. When Jesus saved me, I didn’t stop having bad days. However, my bad days were much more bearable because now I had a personal relationship with Jesus that I could lean on during the difficult times. My good days were even better after becoming a Christian, because I could genuinely enjoy the good gifts from God (James 1:17).
People around you are stressed out and struggling with life. They’re looking for a better life than what they’re currently living. I wonder what they see when they watch most Christians. It’s not inviting to see someone who is miserable, stressed out, and sad all the time.
When people who are far from Jesus look at our faith, they might ask themselves, Do I want the kind of life that he or she’s got? If we’re always sad, that person might be thinking, You know what? I’ve got enough of sadness and misery in my life. I don’t need more of it. If your faith doesn’t bring joy to your life, then I guess it can’t make my life better. So, I guess I don’t want your faith.
I’m on a personal crusade to help Christians have as much fun in their faith as children on a playground. I believe that this is essential to advancing the gospel and pushing back spiritual darkness. I believe joy is a gift from Jesus. It glorifies God to see his people enjoy him. And this gift is a powerful weapon for the advancement of the gospel. To hear more about making faith fun again, check out my recent sermon about it HERE.
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