Jesus came to reveal reality to us all. Those who have heard this revelation and responded to it have said (at least an initial) ‘yes’ to discipleship. They have taken Jesus at His word and throw their lot in with Him – they have taken Him seriously. Consequently, one can’t help but then live life as if it matters. What one does and how one spends their time is of unfathomable importance. After all, “All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations” (i.e. Heaven and glory or Hell and annihilation; C.S. Lewis).
But, is taking all of this seriously suppose to make us serious? C.S. Lewis in The Weight of Glory says this:
This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously.
So, to be a Christian is a) serious business and b) at the same time, not suppose to make us ‘serious?’ We are here approaching a delightful paradox, which, is a great place to be, as it is just “Truth standing on her head to get attention” (Chesterton).
Committed Christians are rarely tempted to take things too lightly. They take things seriously. The Bible, the Church, prayer, what I say, what I do, every little action matter to us. Eternal things hang in the balance! And this is right; things ought to be taken seriously if anything worthwhile and healthy is to last:
Every century tries to make the sacred common, the difficult easy, and the serious amusing – to which there really could be no objection if it were not that in the process seriousness and amusement are destroyed together. (Goethe quoted in Josef Pieper)
It is one of the difficult and delightful subtleties of life that we must deeply acknowledge certain things to be serious and yet retain the power and will to treat them often as lightly as a game. (C.S. Lewis)
Things should be treated seriously, but not with a whole lot of seriousness. My actions matter, yes, but, on the other hand, God has it all in His Hands. We can attack life with all the seriousness of a soldier, but so often God reminds us, “Don’t worry, I got this.” And at the end of this balancing act we may begin to realize that we should take these words seriously too:
These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:11)
And we can gloriously resonate with Lewis’ bold prediction of Jesus’ words to all of us at the end:
Then Aslan turned to them and said: “You do not yet look so happy as I mean you to be.” (The Last Battle)
Jesus has not come to make us anxious, consternated, sulking Chicken Littles with heavy minds and brittle hearts. He has come to make our joy full. He calls followers to Himself who should look like they are following one who has “overcome the world” (John 16:33). It would do us well to remember these words of Chesterton:
[My opponent] thinks that I am not serious but only funny, because [he] thinks that funny is the opposite of serious. Funny is the opposite of not funny, and of nothing else.
Funny is not the opposite of serious. In fact, funny and serious go together! What is serious (i.e. what matters) is often fun and/or funny: sex, dancing, friendship, evangelizing, serving your neighbor, music, speaking in tongues, the human body, etc. This begins to pull a certain veil back: the most real thing in the world is not a stern look, but an ecstatic smile on the face of God. Evil poses no threat to Him – it is defeated with His breath. At the end of the day, what is behind it all (going on in every dimension around us) is not a militaristic march but The Great Dance.
Although our discipleship matters, in the end, it’s not up to us. Rejoice! That’s really good news! We should know that our participation is vital and that life ought to be taken seriously; and that God is taking care of everything, so we can loosen our grip and throw our hands in the air – that allows saints to be known by their joy.
If these kinds of things don’t come naturally to you – maybe you find an elusive seriousness that hangs around like a fog – then pray! Ask somebody to pray with you. Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22). Joylessness is a demonic poison. Ask the Holy Spirit to come and make His home in you: to heal you, to free you, to cast out the enemy, to remind you of who you are and to bring you a joyful peace.
Life is serious, but it should not be ‘serious.’ It is this paradox that sounds odd, but feels like health. The Great Dance that we are a part of should be taken seriously and enjoyed to the full. This is so glorious that it is beyond our power to conform to it – Come Holy Spirit!