I bet most audience members of the movie Inside Out were okay with the idea that Joy should be in charge. After all, we like to be happy. No religious belief can be true if it doesn’t match up with our internal smiley-face-meter. We shouldn’t have to do work we aren’t passionate about, stay in relationships that no longer serve us, or deny ourselves any desire or pleasure. Pretty much the entire world is telling us that our goal should be to be happy, happy, happy, all the time, even at the expense of others.
And who’s telling us that joy and sadness can, and should, exist at the same time?
Pretty much just Pixar and Jesus.
Long before Pixar made a delightful, whimsical movie about the emotions inside a little girl’s head, Jesus summed up the moral of the story this way: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
Joy, with her blue hair, twirly dress, and unflagging optimism, would stare at him and say, “Excuse me, what?” just like the rest of us. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it’s true. Here are some things I think Christians should be sad about.
Often, I’m not really sad about my sin. I’m sorry for the results—for the look on someone’s face when I realize I hurt them, for the awkwardness when I’m sure a friend knows I lied, for the burning shame when I realize that, once again, I am making everything all about me. I’m even sorry for the distance I feel from God when I disobey him. But I don’t feel the weight of what my pride and pettiness and hypocrisy and angry outbursts and distortions of the truth really are: rebellion against God.
Paul was pretty hard on the Corinthians for their sin. In his follow-up letter to them, he says, “As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.” Paul was excited that they were sad after reading his first letter, but not because he was a killjoy who wanted people to suffer. No, he was excited about the change. It seems that repentance only really happens when you are genuinely sad about what you’ve done wrong.
I need to have that reaction more often. (more…)