Getting happy

John Wesley wrote of an imaginary conversation once. His fictional interlocutor asked where he wanted to lead the men and women to whom he preached.

Wesley responded that he wanted to lead them to happiness.

When I read that, I am reminded of some of the great hymns of Methodism and Wesley’s reported final words: “The best of all, God is with us.” I wonder if people who encountered him felt his sense of happiness. Did people think of Methodists as happy? Did Methodists’ love of God shine forth as happiness that moved people?

I’ve read a great deal that Wesley has written. I’m not as familiar with people’s reports about Wesley. I often hear 21st century United Methodists talk about him as an iron-fisted tyrant who was uptight and exacting in all he did. But do we describe him as happy? Does what he meant by happiness look anything like what we mean by that word?

For those who are not all that interested in Wesley: Do the Christians you know seem like happy people?

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4 thoughts on “Getting happy

  1. That is an interesting question. It would be hard for me to say if the Christians I know are happy or just seem happy. Most people….probably especially Christians….want to appear happy because there still seems to be some unwritten code that if a Christian isn’t happy there must be some underlying “spiritual” deficiency. But there are some that I could say are genuinely happy people.

    There is one common Christian characteristic that can be found in that group of happy Christians. They live in contentment. I wonder if happiness is ever really possible without contentment. I wonder if we sometimes forget to seek His kingdom and His righteousness first….. . Contentment……just think about what a church would look like if we could bring contentment to life in the church…..from the leadership on down. Oh happy days!

  2. Perhaps the question might be more to the point if we asked, “Are the Christians you know happy in a qualitatively greater way than the non-Christians you know?”

    1. I think the answer here depends on whether both church and the world mean the same thing by the word “happy.”

  3. At our truest, the Church likely echoes John Wesley in saying, “he is not happy who is not holy.” “Happiness” for us is probably most closely related to joy, the fruit of the Spirit. The world definitely doesn’t use that same definition.

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