Rejoice always

Published 4:23am Sunday, July 6, 2014

By Rev. Kevin Kelly

Hear these words of Paul as he writes about the Christian life.

“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice!

“Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

“Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

“Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:4-9 NLT)

Many years ago, a train stopped somewhere in southern Georgia to take on water for the engine. A man on the train saw a local old-timer leaning against the depot platform and he yelled to him: “Anybody around here enjoy religion?” The old-timer on the platform shuffled his feet and then replied: “Them that has does!”

Now, wouldn’t you like to find that old fellow in southern Georgia and shake his hand? He made a major accomplishment with his answer. He spoke four words and made four grammatical errors! Isn’t that something? Four English mistakes in a four-word sentence! That takes talent!

However, it should be noted his English was terrible, but his theology was terrific. Forget how he said it and remember what he said: “Them that has does!”

That translates “those who really have religion (the right kind of religion) are radiantly joyous people!” Real religion does not make us somber, sullen and sad; rather, real Christian faith makes us happy, confident and glad.

Unfortunately, a great host of people (and this includes many in the churches) have not made this discovery. They do not think of faith as a source of joy.

They are pious, but not happy. They are dedicated, but not joyful. Their personalities are for the most part grim, serious, heavy and burdened. They scowl more than they smile. They criticize more than they celebrate.

How sad it is that some people see faith as a source of goodness, but not as a source of gladness. How sad that some people see religion as a sensitizer of conscience, but not as a fountain of happiness. This is a great pity because our world desperately needs Christian people who are radiant and happy, joyful and confident. People, who as Paul put it, “Rejoice Always!”

 

The Rev. Kevin Kelly is senior minister at First United Methodist Church in Wetumpka. 

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