I’ve always struggled with cliché Christianity. Packaging God into fun little sayings (the good ones might even rhyme and end up on cheap, plastic nick-knacks) to apply to the harsh realities of life. Like God is some kind of supernatural, triple-antibiotic ointment we can slap on our boo boos.
So we’ve committed to talking about the uncomfortable things. Conversing about the tension. Walking into the not so easy to explain.
And I’m proud of that. (The good kind of pride, I think).
People long for a real God. One that encounters their real lives. That walks among the poor and the brokenhearted. That gives hope in the midst of our greatest trials. Jesus Himself was called a “man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.” (Isaiah 53:3)
But at one point I remember thinking, “this is starting to feel a little Emo.”
Don’t worry, I had to look it up, too. The urban dictionary has a brilliant definition:
Genre of softcore punk music that integrates unenthusiastic melodramatic 17 year olds who don’t smile, high pitched overwrought lyrics and inaudible guitar rifts with tight wool sweaters, tighter jeans, itchy scarfs (even in the summer), ripped chucks with favorite bands signature, black square rimmed glasses, and ebony greasy unwashed hair that is required to cover at least 3/5 ths of the face at an angle.
All this talk of God encountering us in the midst of our pain has me wondering, does He ever find us in midst of some joy? Not self-indulgent, follow me and I’ll fatten your 401(k) and supernaturally provide you a Mercedes C-class convertible kind of happy.
Pleasure, peace, and contentment not related to circumstance.
To truly encounter God, do we have to stay sad and introspective (and wear tight, wool sweaters in the summer)? Following Jesus leads us to His cross, but it also promises a resurrection. Life. Real life.
But let all those who take refuge and put their trust in You rejoice; let them ever sing and shout for joy, because You make a covering over them and defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You and be in high spirits.
–Psalm 5:11 NLT
We don’t serve an Emo God. Our Creator, who knows and embraces our pain, also longs to give us joy. To fill us with real life. Overflowing. More than we can handle.
Do you know Him both ways?