The most readily observable outward characteristic of the Christian is joy.
The reason is obvious. Scripture says, “In Your presence is fullness of joy.” And the more time we spend with Him the more of it we absorb. The more we absorb, the more we radiate. That’s why the worship time in a praying church is the most joyous hour of the week.
I suspect you may have been in the other kind, too. Weak and wearisome. Restless and boring. Repetitious, even mindless. Is that too strong? Well, how often have you sung a praise hymn at the worship service in your church and the powerful words didn’t even register in your soul?
When Ruthie and I were dating, we were both busy, but we couldn’t wait for our phone visits. I’d call her and find myself already smiling while the phone was still ringing. We were separated only by distance and when that’s true with someone you love it energizes everything. That’s a feeble parallel to being in the presence of God, but it’s why a praying, worshiping church is one of the most joyous places on earth. Worship is a learned skill and the more we grasp the beauty of God the more we love to be in His presence. And it shows.
If you’ve ever taken a tour of lighthouses in America, you know something about their history. Here’s something I didn’t know. The first lighthouse of record was built around 280 BC, and it consisted of a fire built on top of a 450 ft tower in Alexandria harbor, Egypt. Not much changed for two thousand years, until the 1800’s. Glass lanterns and crude mirrors increased their efficiency in the late 1600’s, but as shipping increased so did shipwrecks.
Enter Augustin Fresnel, a frail French architect in the early 1800’s. Instead of studying the lighthouse, Fresnel decided to study the light itself. How it changes when it passes through a lens, how it bends, for instance. It was his study, not of the lighthouse structure, but of the light that allowed him to shape it into a far-reaching beam that would save countless shipwrecks worldwide. His invention is called the Fresnel lens and it’s still in use today, even in the headlights of your car.
One author says, “We are called to an everlasting preoccupation with God.” It’s called worship. So, as we study the Light, we can see better. We can see Him better. The better we can see Him, the greater our joy. And it shows. A joyous church is the gestation place of a transformational journey. That’s how it works. On a scale of 1 – 10, how effective is your church as a Lighthouse?
–Don Jacobsen (Hope-Heals.org)