I have been really enjoying reading through The Happy Christian, by David Murray. When I finish it, I will offer a review, but meanwhile I will post some highlights along the way. Murray suggests rebalancing the diet we are taking for ourselves, and offering to others, in the following ways:
1. More Salvation than Sin
“…the gospel message must begin with “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” But we don’t want to linger there any longer than we have to. Some preachers, teachers, and parents love to dwell in the smoke and fire of Mount Sinai more than the love and grace of Mount Calvary.”
2. More Truth than Falsehood
Here Murray suggests we learn from banks who train their workers to spot counterfeits by handling the real thing. It is easy to give ourselves to critiquing and spotting the errors and heresies around us, but we need to enjoy the truth of what is right and good.
3, More Wooing than Warning
Murray is right to urge us to offer more of Christ than the devil, more of “the attraction of heaven than the fear of hell,” and more of the beauty of holiness than the ugliness of sin. He urges us to show people “how much Jesus is willing and able to save and how much He desires and delights to save. He does not save because He has to but because He wants to and enjoys to.”
4. More Victory than Struggle
Do our sermons, blog posts, prayers, and songs reflect the biblical emphasis on the power of life in the Spirit, or do we lean more toward a primary focus on the struggle and difficulty? It is right to highlight the sufferings of persecuted Christians around the world, but let’s also be informed about the number of people coming to faith and the impact of the gospel in the world.
5. More Celebration than Lamentation
Just as there’s a time to mourn, there is also a time to laugh. “When we consider how many blessings we have compared to so many, we must sometimes sound like spoiled children, whining, whining, and whining for more. . . . Remember the apostles even managed to celebrate that they were counted ‘worthy’ to suffer persecution for Christ’s sake!”
6. More Life than Death
Murray points to the missionary death and martyr story emphasis in books, rather than the inspiring stories of lives being changed. We need more life narratives than death narratives since most people will live ordinary everyday lives for the vast majority of their lives!
7. More Strengths than Weaknesses
It is easy to focusing on fixing weaknesses, but why not give more energy to cultivating and developing what is working well already? Murray doesn’t deny the call to complete transformation, but he has a point in respect to where we put our energies.
While our ministry needs to include a certain amount of deconstruction and helpful critique, let’s make sure that the balance leans more toward offering the Good News of Jesus in all its richness. Less of me and more of Him. I imagine Murray’s list might feel quite convicting for some of us. Let’s pray through this and be thankful that we have something infinitely constructive and helpful to meditate on ourselves and offer to others!