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Raucous joy!

Bob Kellemen » Worship Health Community Stewardship

Yesterday I was invited by close family friends to attend their son’s elementary school talent contest. Since our children are young adults and since our first grandchild will not arrive until this summer, it has been quite some time since I have been at an elementary school event.

I had a great time! The 25 participants sang, danced, played instruments, and also performed what the program described as “unique” talents. The hundreds of students in the bleachers were appropriately raucous—clapping, cheering, stomping, enjoying.

Celebrate life

Yes, they were enjoying and celebrating life. As I was enjoying life with them, I was struck by the fact that sometimes Christians—who have the most reasons to enjoy life—enjoy it the least.

If you were to assess the level of life enjoyment by the state of the Evangelical Christian blogosphere, for example, you might find little joy. Post after post, we emphasize what we are against. Post after post, we highlight how other Christians are wrong.

Evangelical Christian sermons and books often seem the same: all about sin, which is clearly our central problem. Yet, you would think that we were still dead in our sins by the emphasis we seem to have on sinfulness.

Whatever happened to grace? To the resurrection? To victory in Jesus? To where sin abounds, grace superabounds (Rom. 5:20)?

There seems to be a Pharisaical emphasis on exposing evil in others that results in a dour, down, negative focus that is the opposite of raucous joy. It is a false puritanical spirit. I say false, because the Puritans, despite the inaccurate representations, knew how to celebrate life. Yes, they were deeply aware of sin, but they were more deeply impacted by grace.

Celebrate all of life

I was also struck by the words of the various songs that the children sang or danced to. They enjoyed and celebrated all of life.

In our Evangelical Christian circles, it seems that a song is deemed “Christian” only if it specifically references Christ. Now, those who read my blog know that I am all about being Christ-focused and that I am all about worship music that is gospel-centered.

But shouldn’t our Christ-focused and gospel-centered mindsets result in songs about all of life since Christ came to give us abundant life (John 10:10)? Do our “Christian” radio stations play songs from a Christian perspective that celebrate marriage? Dating? Life? Friendship? Success? Is a song “Christian” simply because Christ is mentioned, or because our new abundant life in Christ is the foundation for lyrics that celebrate any and all of the wonders of life?

Demonic doctrines

In Soul Physicians, I ask this question: what are demonic doctrines? Using that question from the book, I’ve asked seminary students and seminar audiences to give me examples of “demonic doctrines.” Repeatedly they fail to come up with a biblical answer.

How would you answer that question?

Consider how the Apostle Paul defines demonic doctrines in 1 Timothy 4:1–5 (NIV):

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

Demonic doctrines focus on forbidding!

Demonic doctrines focus on abstaining!

Demonic doctrines focus on against-ness!

Demonic doctrines are the opposite of celebrating and enjoying life.

God created life to be enjoyed with thanksgiving. Everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.

Now, I bet your mind immediately went to, “But, Bob, many things are to be rejected because they are sinful!”

You just proved my point. We can’t even read a biblical passage about celebrating and enjoying life without being sure we remind God about sin!

In the same letter to young Timothy, Paul reminds him to remind people to trust in the living God who gives us all things richly to enjoy (1 Tim. 6:17).

Do you richly enjoy all things? All things?!

Adorn the gospel by jumping for joy!

Is your Christian life, is my Christian life, a model of raucous joy?

Is the way Christians live life and talk about life a portrait of celebration and joy?

Paul, in another letter to another young Christian (Titus) reminds us that the way we live life is to make attractive the teaching about God our Savior. We adorn doctrine by our joyous celebration of life.

Which set of words describes how we as Christians live?

  • Exuberant, enthusiastic, energetic, boisterous, vivacious, positive, excited, thrilled, animated, lively, spirited
  • Lethargic, exhausted, dull, lifeless, listless, dour, negative, weary, boring, subdued., bleak, stern, gloomy, severe, dreary

Join the conversation

Today, how could your life be like a raucously joyful elementary school talent show? How will you jump for joy today?


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