In his treatise on the joyous character of Christ, Are You Fun to Live With? (1968), Lionel Whiston described our Lord thusly: “Wherever He went, Jesus radiated confidence” (p.32). Jesus was fun to live with. He was invited to weddings and even to the homes of Pharisees on one extreme and tax collectors on the other. He lit up a room just by entering. So, if we follow a Savior who was fun to live with, are we?
Religiosity and a perverted sense of ‘rightness’ have distracted us from our task of being light to a dark world, and of being called to be genuine friends. Instead, we have fallen victim to our culture’s ‘selfie’ mentality and have reversed the camera of our mind to focus in a direction that leads us toward depression rather than to joyous purpose. If we are not careful, we can easily find ourselves immobilized by our inwardly developed fears. Instead of being the light of the world, I am convinced that if we were to interview outsiders, more would deduce that we were not much fun to live with, than that we were.
How can we fix it? America’s “Me generation” has proven contagious to the rest of the population. If I am not careful, I can easily find myself depressed when I have centered my attention on me and on my situation. According to <teensuicidestatistics.com> a University of Texas study has found that 75% of teen suicide victims are depressed. But we follow a Savior who longs for ‘His joy to be in us so that our joy will be complete’ (John 15:11). We study the teachings of Paul who, while bound by chains told us to “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil. 4:4). Depression should not be a major problem in the body of Christ but it is becoming so. Self-focus is self-destructive.
We have forgotten that it is more blessed to give of ourselves than it is to receive (Acts 20:35). We have neglected to consider others and their needs more highly than we view our own (Phil 2:3-4). Consequently, our self-focus has accomplished in our hearts the same thing it has been doing in the lives of others. We have gotten to the point that we cannot see past ourselves and our ‘needs.’ Our pursuit of happiness has been unsuccessful as it always is. Jesus never pursued happiness. Rather, He sacrificed Himself to bless others and joy came to Him. As we choose to follow His example, we will find ourselves similarly blessed. Yes, the multiplied blessings that come to His disciples are accompanied by persecutions (Mark 10:29-30) and by fears. But joy and a refreshing spirit are the nature of Christ-followers. Our Savior has called us to be the light of the world. He was fun to live with and has called us to continue His work. Let’s go for it.
Because He lives,