by: Jeff Poppinga
Right now church is not making me happy! The programs aren't making me happy! The preaching (and I am the one preaching) isn't making me happy! The people of the church are not making me happy! The day to day operations are not making me happy! The events are not making me happy! The other staff are not making me happy!
At first reading you may get the impression that I am not a very happy person but I did not state that I am not happy but that the things I listed were not making me happy.
Can we expect the church to make us happy? Can we expect the programs, events, staff, preaching and people of the church to make us happy?
This is an important question! I believe that I, along with many others, often put our hopes for happiness in something less than our Savior, Jesus Christ. And when we do we place unrealistic expectations on those things or people to produce something for us, which they can't, and therefore we get frustrated, anxious, upset, depressed, disillusioned and even angry.
CHURCH CAN NOT MAKE YOU or ME HAPPY!
What can? Or better yet, Who can? Well, you know the answer, it is the standard Sunday school answer.....Jesus! I don't want to sound trite or overly simple but there is no other answer. Jesus is the way and the truth and the life (Jn 14:6). Jesus is the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for the sheep so we could have life more abundantly (Jn 10:10). Paul understood it and reminded us to rejoice in the Lord always and in case we missed it, he repeated himself and said again to rejoice (Phil 4:4). The joy of the Lord is to be our strength (Neh 8:10).
Church is a whole lot easier to enjoy when I am not depending on it to make me happy. Church becomes more enjoyable for me and those around me when I am not trying to use church for my own self-fulfillment. Church actually becomes more like church when we find our joy in the Lord rather than trying to find it in people, programs, events, studies and staff.
Why do you or I attend church services? Why do you or I participate in church ministry? Do we do it to express our joy in the Lord through glad worship and service? Do we do it to share our joy? Or do we do it in an attempt to meet our need for joy and gladness? Do we do it to find joy?
If you are looking for happiness in a church you will be frustrated and you will probably frustrate those around you. But if you are looking at church as the means through which you can express your happiness in the Lord, you will be a blessing to others and be blessed by others.
Only the Lord can give us true and lasting joy. He is the living water. He is the bread of heaven. He is the way and the truth and the life. He is the vine. He is the resurrection and life. He is the Good Shepherd.
This is written for my benefit but I hope whoever else reads it can benefit as well. Let's go to the Lord and in Him there is joy. Then let us serve the Lord with gladness. But to try and find joy from the church is nothing but madness.
Something to think about.....
Glory and Praise to God; Grace and Peace to you,
Pastor Jeff Poppinga