There’s an epidemic that is seizing our society. You see it everywhere you go…sometimes even in church. I’m not sure how it began either. Perhaps it was originally a defense mechanism. Maybe it started out of the need to feel cool or aloof. But wherever or however it began it has become a serious problem. I speak of course of the scowl; you know, the perma-frown. The look that indicates you’re not happy, in pain, angry or perhaps you’re face is just stuck that way. It’s the furrowed brow mouth turned down look that seems to be the standard greeting these days. You see it at the store, the school pick-up line, the elevator, and even sometimes when I look out from the platform while I am preaching (maybe that’s because of my preaching). But I have come to take serious issue with this epidemic.
Maybe it’s because as often as I can I strive to show the opposite. I think strangers must often think me a very simple minded person as I often am grinning like an idiot and trying to catch their eyes for the return smile. But I often think about what the expression of joy should look like in our lives. Joy is most often characterized by laughing or smiling. And why is this important? “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22-23 When describing the result of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, the apostle Paul begins with Love and then the second priority is Joy. So one of the primary evidences of the presence of God in our lives is joy. This is the exact opposite of the scowl that so often we see painted on the faces of people who so often claim Christ.
I’ve been trying to think about why this might be. Maybe you are unhappy about something in your life. Maybe you are frustrated by the way others are treating you or what they are doing. Maybe you are in constant pain. I suppose all of these things are reason enough to struggle with exhibiting joy. But think with me for a second. The very God that spoke the entire universe into existence looked at you and thought you so worthy as to give His very life for you. Not only that but that same God looks at you and calls you child. This thought alone should be enough to permanently affix a smile to most our faces. Every day you can look around you and find something worthy of the expression of joy. Maybe it’s the wonder of the sunrise (or sunset if you’re not a morning person), the fact that your body still works, the laughter of a child, the insanity that we don’t go flying off this spinning orb into space or any number of things that should elicit wonder and joy. There’s an old song that says, “When you’re smiling, when you’re smiling, The whole world smiles with you.” Maybe that should be our challenge today. Let’s see how contagious the joy of the Spirit in our lives can be and perhaps we might begin to see the whole world smile with us.