Some Just Aren’t Happy

I have been in professional Church ministry for twenty-nine years. In that time, I have found a common character trait in those who fight against the Church. It doesn’t matter whether things go their way or not, they still fight. That’s because it really isn’t about their way. It is about their heart.

Brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? In that case the stumbling block of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would mutilate themselves! For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5.11-21

Saint Paul encountered the same fighters in his ministry. “If I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted?” He was persecuted, and we are persecuted, because it was never about doing or say what they wanted. What they wanted was to live in their sin.

I remember one time in my early ministry. I made the ‘mistake’ of thanking someone for the work done for a Church function. “I didn’t do it for you!” This was the only response, as if to say, “I don’t care about your thanks.” I know now this same person would have condemned me for not thanking them if I had remained silent. It was never about being thanked. It was about a dark heart.

All the sins that Saint Paul references in today’s reading will lead people to darkness. Only Christ is the light. Only those who use their freedom to love other rather than themselves will walk in the light. Those in darkness don’t want to know what it looks like in the light. It only reminds them they are in darkness.

This is why Saint Paul was persecuted. This is why some people are just not happy being happy. The only thing we can do is love them. We love them by allowing them to be in darkness if they choose. We love them by inviting them out of the darkness. We are all free to choose light or darkness. If others choose darkness they will be perpetually unhappy. My experience is they seem to happy being unhappy.

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