How many times have you heard the admonition to “get serious about the things of the Lord?”
Some years ago I knew a pastor who was a VERY SERIOUS man, rife with the kind of grim determination usually reserved for the resident’s of Helm’s Deep when there’s about to be huge surplus in the Random Bits of Orc market. He was no fun at all. His wife was even worse. The story goes that he proposed to her with the words “I think we could have a good ministry together.”
He demanded that no fictional books be read in his home. When his wife received a gift of a set of books by Janette Oke (the most bland of the most bland Christians romance authors) he let her keep them so as not to offend the giver on the condition that she promised to never read them. As far as I knew she never did.
When my father (a fellow minister) once casually called him by his first name the man insisted that he be called “pastor” instead. My father was taken aback but complied. It’s very hard to reason with an always serious man.
Such a serious man was he that he once declared at a church picnic that he had begun running because he felt that he had not enough affliction in his life and by voluntarily giving himself pain he felt that his spiritual life would be more fruitful. And then he ate a cheeseburger. Seriousness has its limits one supposes.
Unfortunately, seriousness is catching. After one of his sermons against the terrible threat of the New Age in which he decried the symbol of the unicorn, one of his congregants went to her mother’s apartment and opened the cabinet that houses her mother’s china horse collection. She then proceeded to break the horns off all her unicorns. Why so serious?
That pastor eventually left that church with its attendance in free fall and moved to the next where he engineered the same kind of decline. The joy of the Lord may be the strength of some but JOY only means Jesus and Others and Yourself a distant third, don’t you know? It’s not about happiness. Please be serious.