Chapter 13 FALSE JOY
“A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”
Another fruit of legalism is joyless living. We all know as Christians we are suppose to have joy. It’s one of the fruits of the Spirit. By the way, may I point out that it’s not the fruit of human struggle, but of the Spirit! Many times I heard sermons on how we should always have a smile on our face and that we should come into church rejoicing. Good Christians do not have problems, are always happy, and it’s up to us to show the world how happy we are. Since legalism is the other gospel and it can never ever produce any genuine joy in the believer, then we have to settle for false joy. That’s putting a smile on our face even if we’re dying inside. When someone asks you how you’re doing, then you respond with a big smile and a praise the Lord on your lips. Fine, you say, God is so good to us.
Because if we really admit that we’re suffering or depressed, then we aren’t good Christians. How dare we not show joy after all Jesus has done for us? I ask this question. How can God heal us if we are not totally honest with Him?
I’m thankful for the harshness that this brand of legalism was being taught with. Strange you may think, but it was this harshness that brought me to the end of myself and my pitiful struggles to be acceptable to God. It sent me on a quest for truth. I was sick to death of this duplicity. Jesus laughed, Jesus cried. He was fully human, and fully God. He had emotions like the rest of us and was not afraid to express them.
My husband and I joked about putting on our masks before entering into the church building. We were going through so many trials during that time. I’d sit in church with my stomach churning as I listened to the scornful tone of the pastor admonishing us to have joy.
This pastor shouted from the pulpit in his harsh tone one Sunday that if we didn’t come into church rejoicing in the Lord, then God would turn his back on us. He demonstrated this by turning his back to the audience. That was the biggest lie so far! It comes right from the pit of hell. Lucifer himself hatched it. The liar of all lies tries his best to convince us that God is angry with us, and that we must somehow appease Him. Jesus came to heal the broken hearten. The righteous cry and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalms 34:17-18). David, Job, and so many other Bible characters were honest with God. They didn’t try to hide their sorrows and pain under a false grin. The last Sunday night we were at this church, once again the pastor preached against anyone that didn’t have joy. He mocked and imitated someone with depression trying to witness to someone. In my heart I knew if there was anyone present that was suffering from depression that this sermon could push them over the edge. I told my husband I could not stomach another sermon from this man. I felt strongly impressed that we were contributing to this false teaching by remaining in the church and supporting it with our tithes and offerings. True joy comes from knowing I cannot, no, not ever, earn eternal life. It’s a free gift. All I can do is say thank you and accept it. True joy comes from knowing that my heavenly Father knows me intimately and wants a personal relationship with me. Bubbling up, feeling like doing a cartwheel kind of joy comes from knowing that the Creator of the Universe dwells within me. That this one and only true God put on flesh to take my sins upon himself and to suffer and die in my place. Joy that is beyond words comes from knowing that God loves me with a love that is nothing compared to human love. It is a love that loves me because He is love, not love based on what I do.