Last night I dreamed a parade of solemn, angry protesters was marching through my neighborhood. As they came around the bend and got closer, I could read the signs they held in tight, unmovable fists.
They were Christians. And they were, quite literally, mad at the world.
I remember thinking to myself as they trudged on, barking out their vitriol, that this wasn’t the way to do things at all.
I thought how beautiful an impact they might have made if they were singing instead of shouting.
When I woke, I began to wonder if the Lord had given me this dream. To be fair, in a different scene I was carrying a car underneath my arm like a football, so I can’t say for sure one way or the other. But the realization I had in the dream is one I want to hold onto a while longer.
The state of the world around us is abysmal, for sure. It can be easy to feel that things will never get better; that hearts will never change. We can become jaded and lose compassion.
At the other end of the spectrum, some Christians have decided their motto should be, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” After all, life goes much more smoothly when you can blend in and not be hated for your beliefs.
Neither way sounds like the life God intends for his people to live.
What if, instead, we leaned in close as close can be to God; what if we stayed rooted to the spot as the words of his goodness and kindness washed over us; what if we were so overwhelmed by his mercy towards us that we went out into this dark world singing instead of shouting?
If we focused on the hope we have in the gospel more intentionally, would it be easier to live out the following commands of Scripture?
“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again— rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. -Phillipians 4:4-7
“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” -1 Peter 3:15-16
“Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” -2 Timothy 2:22-26
God’s word is so good. On any given day, we could spend hours and hours pondering the truths we find there. And one amazing truth we find in the Scripture above says we are to be full of joy! When? Always!
We are called to uphold God’s truth. We are called to obey his commands to be holy and set apart. We are called to urge others to repentance and faith because God loves them! And we are called to be filled with joy.
Singing instead of shouting.
I like the sound of that.
“The LORD is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. Songs of joy and victory are sung in the camp of the godly. The strong right arm of the LORD has done glorious things!” -Psalm 118:14-15