Monday, January 28, 2008

Joy at the Core of Life

I recently completed Chesterton's Orthodoxy. I was delighted that he concluded with the topic of joy. If you don’t want to know how his book ends, please don’t read any further (I’m giving it away…)

Chesterton says,

Joy…is the gigantic secret of the Christian… The tremendous figure which fills the Gospels towers in this respect, as in every other, above all the thinkers who ever thought themselves tall. His pathos was natural, almost casual. The Stoics, ancient and modern, were proud of concealing their tears. He never concealed His tears; He showed them plainly on His open face at any daily sight, such as the far sight of His native city. Yet He concealed something. Solemn supermen and imperial diplomatists are proud of restraining their anger. He never restrained His anger. He flung furniture down the front steps of the Temple, and asked men how they expected to escape the damnation of Hell. Yet He restrained something… There was something that He hid from all men when He went up a mountain to pray. There was something that He covered constantly by abrupt silence or impetuous isolation. There was some one thing that was too great for God to show us when He walked upon our earth; and I have sometimes fancied that it was His mirth.

In the margin, I wrote: "Yes! I've seen it myself. He is always laughing!"

But if what Chesterson says is true, then this is my question, which you are free to comment on if you wish: Why did Jesus, while on earth, choose to conceal, or at least restrain himself from revealing fully, his amazing joy?


sunnyday said...

Maybe it's not time for us to learn that lesson so fully yet. I mean, of course we need to learn it, there is just a lot to learn beforehand. We will have an eternity of learning about God and His ways and how beautiful He is. Maybe the type of joy God knows is too big for us right now and He restrained His joy to help us focus on more basic building blocks of our relationship with Him. I think God loves life and enjoys all of His knowledge and qualities of His character and is excited when we learn about them and yet He has to be patient with us and our pace. He has so many things to show us but we don't have an understanding of just how great they are yet. For instance, right now I love nature and I see God's glory in the trees and the animals and the breezes and the sunlight pouring down on me. And yet there are so many other more advanced ways to enjoy God in nature that I barely understand like how a seed knows when to open and how to sprout a flower or how a wolf knows how to care for herself when she's pregnant and teach her pups how to be strong and survive. How did God conceive such things and then imprint them into these creations? I see some aspects to take joy in but there are so many others that are a mystery for now. In sum, I think Jesus may have restrained His joy because He knows God so much better than we do but He has to be patient with each of our journeys to know God.

lyricalico said...

I think the heart can be truly free only in a very safe space. The abandon of joy will be abruptly bridled by the cold water of another's heart who is not so dialed in. Being in rapport is the springboard upon which joy can alight, take flight, and through laughter boomingly fill a room. One cannot fully enter into joy when those present just don't get the joke. One cannot abandon oneself to the effervescence of a bubbling overflowing cup when other's are standing by scratching their heads with incomprehension, holding out their own cups of lack.
Maybe His rapport with the Father was something others could not fully enter into. Perhaps if we can now see Him laughing, we have entered into a secret place where He has made the way. Perhaps now there is a freedom to have joy in the midst of suffering, peace in the midst of turmoil, and love in the midst of apathy. Perhaps the joy of the Lord is an incomprehensible thing, except by the Spirit of God. Perhaps tapping into that joy is something we are birthed into when born again, and until that supernatural encounter we are just scratching our heads, wondering if there really is any Good News after all.