“Any intentional steps toward maturity in your faith must result in a disposition defined by trust and gratitude for the great mercies of our God.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – September 15, 2022
“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:11, ESV
Have you ever wondered why people in early photographs are never found to be smiling? You know the photos I’m referencing. Likely you have a few of these photos of ancestors displayed in your home or in a trunk in the attic. Whether a group or individual shot, the faces are nearly lifeless, straight and formal in every way. While some attribute this to bad teeth or the long processing times of early cameras, most likely it is due to the inspiration of portrait painting and the traditional lack of smiles in that artistic medium.
All of this said, to our modern eyes, rather than simply looking dignified or respectable, these historic moments captured on camera appear to us to be defined by a complete lack of joy, a solemnness to which few of us would aspire. And yet, and here lies the heart of today’s reflection, far too often as followers of Christ we walk through our lives with the spiritual disposition of these early images!
Though we are meant to be overflowing with the life and joy of the Lord, far too often our faces and dispositions reflect a life of chronic anxiety, stress, and fear. This posture was recently called out by a professor in a theology course I was attending. His exhortation to the class? “Be the kind of Christians who are quick to show your teeth!”
I must confess, this was the first time I’d ever heard such an exhortation, especially in an academic setting. Yet his point couldn’t have been more helpful and wise. Especially when growing deeper in one’s knowledge of the faith, the true sign of the fruitfulness of Christian education and study is whether or not it is deepening your encounter of the joy of the Lord. And so, whether in a classroom or not, any intentional growth or steps towards maturity in your faith should, by its very nature, result in a disposition defined by trust and gratitude for the great mercies of our God. And so today, cultivate a life of joy, and show your teeth!
Father, make us a joyful people who delight in the gift of your presence, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Make an intentional effort today to express an attitude of joy and delight in God’s presence, whatever your day may bring.
Page CXVI: Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee
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