This weekend I am meeting my old bible study from high school for our annual trip in Portland. I left Seattle in the dark of early morning and on my drive south, I threw in an old CD a friend made me of Pearl Jam’s greatest hits. With Pandora and an iPhone I rarely even listen to CD’s anymore and yet something urged me to open the CD case this a.m. and grab the old P.J. collection. Pearl Jam blew up in popularity when I was in high school into one of the most popular rock bands of the 90s and 2000’s. Their first album was the ANTHEM to a spring break road trip when I was in high school where we played it over and over and over again. And through college, each new Pearl Jam cd would get played countless times during all the highs and lows and seasons of the college experience. It was music that energized and encouraged and spoke to us. I even wrote a college essay comparing the music of Pearl Jam and U2 to some early folk rock of the 1960’s. I’m not sure it was a good paper…but it was fun to research. 🙂
As I drove along I-5 in the early dawn morning with rain pounding my windshield, each new song brought back a flood of memories and I found myself singing out the words at the top of my lungs. There were probably a few southbound semi-truck drivers that saw this crazy guy (me) in a silver truck singing out at the top of his lungs. The thing is…this morning I didn’t care if someone else saw me belting out the tunes….I was feeling the music from within. I remembered the songs, where I was at the first time I heard the album, places in the journey where the music was played, and I sang along. I couldn’t help but respond with joy.
It reminded me that the things we really love and enjoy always create an emotional response from deep within. It happens like this in my marriage. Nights like last night where Heather and I go on dates, sit and talk for hours over an amazing meal (at this place…check it out as the food was incredible) I not only think I’m in love, I feel it deep within myself and it pours out of my life. She makes me smile, makes me laugh, our hands meet in the middle of the table and connect, there is a visible outpouring of an invisible love. It moves me.
Isn’t this how our faith should be? Shouldn’t our faith in an invisible God be more than just a system of beliefs we subscribe to or creeds or doctrines we can recite? Shouldn’t a love relationship with the God who created us elicit a response of joy? Shouldn’t we be moved to sing along with words of gratitude and joy about this relationship?
So often as Christians we forget to respond with joy to our Lord and Savior. We stop singing the words…we stop being glad. Sure we have beliefs, our beliefs stop being life giving and joy inducing. This weekend at Bethany North Pastor Richard is going to be preaching form II Corinthians where Paul encourages our very lives, the fabric of whom we are, to reek of the aroma of Christ. We should be so imbued with a love for God and thankfulness for His great grace for our life that all who encounter us can tell something is different in our life. And not different as weird (we’ve kind of nailed that one as Christians in the past) but different as being an aroma of JOY. You can read the 11 Corinthians passage here. We should be singing the songs of faith that so fills up our very lives that we are overcome with gratitude. Paul acknowledges that for some we encounter, this aroma will be pleasing and life changing and others will struggle with the message we bring. And yet we are called to bring this message. And notice, our aroma (how we present the gospel through our lives) should be pleasing. Even if people might reject it, our call is to pleasantly present the Gospel of Christ and let others respond in their own way.
Is your life a pleasing aroma to the world around you? Are you still moved emotionally by your invisible beliefs? Or has correct doctrine and theology and a long list of the people “outside the kingdom of God” replaced your joyful love relationship with God? If so, I would encourage you to remember the God who you first fell in love with. This is the same God who chose you already into a saved relationship by His great grace. Sing it out! The world is listening…your joyful response might be able to change the world.