“I’d never want to be a Christian. You people don’t know how to have fun.”
Sometimes I think that is right. I’ve known sour-faced people who claim to be believers, but their lives seem joyless and their attitude is definitely anti-fun. However, the majority of my Christian friends have a joyful countenance and laugh much. They know God and are filled with His Spirit. One of the fruits of the Spirit is joy, but is joy the same as fun?
Those who think Christians don’t have fun usually associate fun with activities that most Christians are not interested in doing such as, drinking, drugs perhaps, and a nightlife of, well, I don’t need to go there, but some of them make plain what they think is fun.
After yesterday, I’m thinking that being joyful and having fun are not quite the same thing. We celebrated the birthday of one of our sons by going to an IMAX movie about climbing in the Alps, then to a facility that has climbing walls and tried it ourselves. Actually, two out of the six of us had done it before, but as a first-time climber, I was terrified. Heights bother me, but for the sake of my son, I was determined to do it.
He watched me the first time I went up, laughing and saying that seeing this would be the highlight of his day. I climbed about 15 feet, made the mistake of looking down, and had to come down, but I did it. The second time wasn’t as successful, not because of fear but my upper arm strength is not there and my arm said, ‘you better stop now.’
But watching them climb and have fun was fun for me anyway. Normally our family birthday celebrations include food and something mild like board games, but this time they wanted to “do something different, mom.” So I prayed for an idea. When the film and rock climbing come to mind, I knew it was from the Lord; with my fear of heights, I’d never have come up with this one myself.
So the experience was fun, but knowing that God was behind the planning put great joy in my heart. The fun will fade, yet the joy comes back full force every time I think about God’s surprises and how He blessed our celebration with yet another great idea.
I’m thinking that those who think Christians do not have fun are looking at the activities that many Christians do or do not do, and they are right, some of us never have much fun. What they don’t know anything about is that joy that God provides through His Spirit. It is deep, lasting and hasn’t much to do with what we do. It is more about who He is.
In Hebrews 1:9, God is quoted and to the Son He says: “You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions.”
Notice the reason for the oil of gladness. It isn’t about birthday parties, festive occasions, sports, or any events, but is about a joy that Jesus has that is “more than” anyone else—and it comes from His love for goodness and His hatred for evil.
I think I enjoyed our day yesterday, not because the film was excellent and the rock climbing was fun, but because our activities were pure fun, no selfish, sinful stuff going on, just fun. The joy of Jesus was in it, and even if I couldn’t scale those walls like an ant on a pant leg, I enjoyed my puny efforts and the laughter of my family as they trustingly belayed one another up and down artificial mountainsides.
Those who think Christians have no fun are right—if fun is only doing stuff that mocks righteous living. However, fun for those who follow Jesus is more than that. When the Holy Spirit is involved, He gives two things: an increased capacity to enjoy life, plus His gladness about righteousness without lawlessness.
That made yesterday’s ‘fun’ intense and lasting. Sure, it did leave me with tired muscles, but I have no hangover or regrets, and nothing to apologize about before God.