Cyndi Lauper got it right, in part. We all wanna have fun. It enlivens life and motivates us. Pat Haden, the Athletic Director of USC, removed the football coach partway into this 2013 season. The 3-2 record, bad as it was, dimmed in view of the dispirited and disorganized play of the team.
The new coach, Ed Orgeron, instituted several goals for the team--one was to have fun. So, he brought In and Out burgers and cookies to the menus. It’s worked. My Trojans are now 4-1 under Mr. Ed, playing hard and smart and having fun with football. And I’m having fun watching them!
Fun works, but sometimes it dominates the church. A key member of the praise team approached me to quit—he wasn’t “having fun.” But the church has a higher standard than having fun. God calls it joy, and it transcends the best of fun. Fun comes from liking what we experience, meaning that our pleasure in life is limited by what’s happening. Joy doesn’t have that restriction.
Two primary sources of joy ensure we can always have it. First, Psalm 21 promises that God will fill us with the joy of his presence. If we can’t get excited about that, then our pulse has ended. Second, we have a long term perspective on life that transcends the most difficult times. I’m still amazed at what Hebrews 12:2 says about Jesus, who “for the joy set before him endured the cross.” Physical pain and spiritual separation from His father didn’t bring fun. But the joy of restoring us to God exceeded the temporary loss of the cross.
Following Jesus won’t always come with fun. Sometimes it will. Sometimes, though, it comes with pain, loss, suffering, and death. But we can always have joy through it all. Now, don’t think I’m a camel hair and locust eater. I enjoy life. I have fun. That’s part of the reason I ride motorcycles and teach. The church should have fun. But fun cannot determine what we choose to do.
If I had to choose fun or joy, give me joy.
Kick Starting the Discussion
What are some of the fun factors of your life? Has having fun been a motivating aspect? What are some decisions you’ve made in the interest of fun that have turned out spiritually unhealthy?
What are some specific steps you can take this week to increase your level of joy? Do you need to decrease your focus on fun? How?