February 27, 2018
Acts 28:15… And the brothers there when they heard about us, came as far as the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns to meet us. On seeing them Paul thanked God and took courage.
The first time I read this, many years ago, I was reading a different translation and I misread it to say that Paul took courage when he saw the Three Taverns. That struck me as funny and I pondered the role of laughter and happiness in the life of a disciple. We were created in the image of God so God must have a sense of humor. That must be true because He made the Aardvark.
Where do we learn to be somber and stern? I learned it from my dad. I don’t think he intended it to be that way; his life just wasn’t that happy. He owned a farm outside Spokane, Washington, and worked in town. Between the farm and his job it seemed to me, he was always working. At the same time, he was serious. I don’t remember him ever telling a joke. Have you ever thought about people like that? There are certain people that I can’t imagine telling a joke. To further describe dad, he raised 8 children. That is a serious chore by itself.
And we were poor; at least that is what I now think. When I was a lad, I did not think we were poor. We had plenty of food and we had a tractor; isn’t that a sign of wealth? This writing is not about wealth or the lack of it; it is about the lack of happiness in the life of a disciple. I use the word “happiness” instead of joy because happiness is a cultural word; joy is a Bible word. I don’t think God intends us to live without joy. But, we sometimes live with a lesser opinion of happiness. That could be a common way to live, but is it God’s intention? I don’t think He wants us to live without happiness. Because my dad always appeared stern, I react negatively to sternness . My wife is intentionally, perpetually, happy; I like to talk to her. If Christianity has become a somber experience to you, revisit your birthplace. I refer not to the actual place, but your state of mind when you were born again.
The freedom we gain when Jesus saves us , and the knowledge that God loves us, are enough to launch a song in out hearts. Be joyful and happy.