Joy-killers: Misconceptions About God
By Rick Warren
— April 3, 2012
“Then the Son of Man came, enjoying life ...” (Luke 7:34b Phillips)
This devotional is based on Kay Warren’s new book, “Choose Joy: Because Happiness Isn’t Enough.”
Most of us face a major roadblock as we try to experience joy on a regular basis. We believe the Bible is a heartless, joyless collection of dry rules and regulations. But it isn’t. The Bible is really a book about joy!
You’ll find more than 500 references to joy, gladness, merriment, rejoicing, delighting, and laughing in the NIV translation of the Bible. You would think there would be 10 times as many negative references — to sadness, mourning, tears, etc. — but there are only 158 such references. That tells us that God’s Word is a book of joy!
We also have very powerful misconceptions about who God is and who Jesus is.
Most people perceive God as an angry, judgmental being who roams around looking for ways to squash all of our fun. Look how he is portrayed in artwork throughout the ages — as a white-haired old codger with a beard. Look at the artwork portraying Jesus. Most of it shows him in his time of terrible suffering, hanging bloodied and broken on the cross.
The Bible calls Jesus the “Man of Sorrows” in Isaiah 53, someone who was familiar with grief and suffering. It’s true: The role Father God gave to Jesus was to be the Savior, the Redeemer of mankind, and that required horrific suffering and the shedding of his blood in a graphic, violent way. Yet he wasn’t only a man of sorrows, with little to no capacity for joy, gladness, and pleasure. In his essence, Jesus was God. And God is a God of joy.
Luke 7:34 says, “Then the Son of Man came, enjoying life ...” (Phillips). That messes with my stereotype of Jesus as a kill-joy or a man who couldn’t survive without his box of tissue paper. Jesus was someone who experienced joy as well as sorrow. He sounds like someone I’d like to get to know! If he could experience joy, then I can, too.
And so can you.
Talk About It
- How does the truth that Jesus came enjoying life change your view of him?
- Why do you think God is a God of joy?
Kay Warren co-founded Saddleback Church with her husband, Rick Warren, in Lake Forest, Calif. She is a passionate Bible teacher and respected advocate for those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS as well as orphaned and vulnerable children. She is the founder of Saddleback’s HIV/AIDS Initiative, author of “Say Yes to God,” and coauthor of “Foundations,” the popular systematic theology course used by churches worldwide. She has three children and five grandchildren.