A happy church is a place where believers bask in redemption. Grace flows in, through and out of every member, producing the collective image of Christ on earth. The first church in Jerusalem lived out this grace with “glad and sincere hearts” and everyone in their community admired them (Acts 2:47).
Please don’t misunderstand. The church should not be a place where people wear plastic smiles and refuse to confront challenges for fear of making people unhappy. During my ministry I have made a lot of people unhappy because I didn’t give them what they wanted. Sometimes people tell me I need to agree with them because God has revealed something to them. I respect God’s movement in other people’s lives, but when I feel God is showing me something else I have to be honest, and my honesty isn’t always popular. I have also had caring brothers and sisters in the church confront me with honesty and when they did I wasn’t happy.
If happiness means we will always get our way, never suffer hardships, or never face the reality of our own sin, then it should be stricken from the vocabulary of every Christian. But if it refers to the abiding presence of our Savior who fills us with His grace, then we are very happy indeed.
When my wife and I were in Bible College we had a professor who started every class with a song and prayer. His favorite song was a chorus he told us he learned in Jamaica. We sang, “Happy, Happy, Happy! Happy in the Lord. Keeping His commandments, trusting in His Word. I want you to know God’s promise is true. Happy, Happy, Happy! Happy in the Lord.” I believe this chorus captures the nature of a happy church. It is a place where joy is found in the Lord. It involves conviction, confrontation and restoration, since there is no other way to walk in Christ’s commandments. We follow His Word because we trust Him, and we believe He will reward us in due time if we are willing to suffer with Him.
I apologize once again for imposing my human imagery on God, but perhaps when we get to heaven the Father will rise from a throne with a cup in his hand, raise it in the air and shout, “Welcome My Bride! You have known My joy. Now enter My home where you will know nothing but joy!”
I am not a perfect believer. I lose my cool, get depressed, sin, suffer and struggle. But I am a happy believer because my joy doesn’t come from this world, and what the world doesn’t give me the world can’t take away. A toast to the happy Bride!