I am told that some young people shy away from the Church and following Jesus for fear that life will lose its luster. I’m not sure where that notion comes from. But I do know that it does not derive from the New Testament, at least not from a true understanding of the New Testament. There is enough tragedy in its pages to make it the saddest book in all the world. Yet instead there is a prevailing mood of joy, confidence, and expectation.
Jesus was certainly no frowning savior. His first followers were for the most part young people. Even children were attracted by His charm. All of which suggests that Jesus was probably known more for His smiles than His tears.
And yet Jesus is often contradicting the idea that the purposes of life is to have a good time. That, of course, as you know, is a very commonly held opinion in our day; but is not a 21st century invention. The fun-and-games view of life has been around a very long time. “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you may die” is a slogan dating back to before the time of Jesus. So Jesus is telling us that we need to take a different look at life. A realistic look at life!
Having fun is not a bad thing. It is just much too small a thing to live for. Whenever we make it the primary mission of our life, for some reason it just doesn’t work. Few people enjoy life less than the people who live for no other reason than to have fun. The more they get what they want, the less they want what they get.
We need to see that there is more to life than laughter. This world of ours confronts us with some very harsh and at times sad things. All around us are people who are hurting or lonely or afraid. Our mission in life ought to be not so much to have fun as it is to care about each other.
There is in life a strange paradox. It is this: no one laughs more frequently or more deeply than the people who know how to care and how to weep for the sorrows of others. The primary enemy of joy is selfishness. But if one forgets about oneself and learns to care about others, one will learn how to truly be joyous and will learn how to laugh.
So Christianity is sort of like buying a new pair of eye-glasses. They’re not rose colored – they don’t make everything look sweet and nice. They’re realistic glasses. They bring life into sharper focus and give us a new way of looking at things which will fill our lives with true and lasting joy