Happy and Holy Christians
Christians ought to be happy people. Although it might not look that way, they should be happy because they are forgiven, enjoying the Father’s smile, united with Christ and filled with the Spirit. Delight and joy should be our attitude because we know the living Christ and all the promises resident in Him.
Christians ought to be holy people. Rendering service to their Lord who “sought them and bought them” puts Christians in an attentive position. They are attentive to the voice of their master, speedily adhering to the detailed instruction that he gives. In so doing, they show they are set apart for the Lord’s disposal. So the Christian remains as bound and free as the law of his Lord dictates.
The Hole in our Happiness
If we can tend toward a malaise in our modern technological life, it is because we have a severe deficiency in our happiness. We have come to see that for all of our screens and social connection, our societies feel surprisingly alone and unhappy. To play on Kevin DeYoung’s phrase, there’s a hole in our happiness. The hole in our happiness, like the hole in our holiness, vacuums away the reality of who God truly is, leaving a distorted god without power to command or console.
John Calvin connected holiness and happiness in the motto that is attributed to him: My Heart I Offer To You Lord, Promptly and Sincerely. For Calvin, the Christian lives from the heart, the seat and source of our happiness. But it is the outflow of the heart that obedience to the Master is given.
The obedience is so attentive to the Master that any instruction, law or command will be responded to ‘promptly and sincerely’. That is the picture of holiness. It is not grim and passive. It is quick to obey, attentive to detail and happy in the service.
Happy and Holy vs. Cynical and Wooden
When we are happy and holy in the Lord, we confess the truth Paul wrote about when he said, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Ro 8:1). This means that the Christian can be truly happy because their sins are forgiven. Of course, to have forgiveness of sins is to know that the holy God has been propitiated by the blood of the Lamb. As Christ step into our place, he suffered for our sins. Now we are “free from sin and death” through the work of Christ (v.2). Our freedom loosens our tethers and chains and we can run care-free like children (Matt 18:3).
How different this happiness is compared to the cynicism of the world, where everyone is “hated by others and hating one another” (Titus 3:3)!
When we live free happy lives under the pardon of God, we are so filled with love to him, we don’t let ourselves petrify in response to his commands. How strange it would be for us to passively obey God in some rigid, heartless form?
The happy, holy Christian is active and attentive in offering their heart to God with glad obedience. This is to “glorify God and enjoy him forever” as the Catechism puts it. Such happy, holy living is what we were made for-- our “chief end”.
[This was the substance of a devotional given at a recent Elders meeting at Calvary Grace]