Sad Clowns and Joyless Christians
Thursday - May 12th
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Clowns were never intended to be sad, and Christians were not intended to be joyless. But, now we have sad clowns and joyless Christians.
Clowning, as a profession, continues to shrink worldwide. One of the most recent studies on clowning completed in 2015, suggested the number of clowns in the world dropped a drastic 28% between 2004 and 2014. Professional clown associations in the United States and Europe believe the numbers have continued to shrink.
Some say the last half of the 20th century had too many cultural references to clowns as either overly sad or incredibly frightening. Others point to the media coverage of modern scandals of abuse by clergy, teachers, and preschool workers - creating concern about anyone who works professionally with kids. Another perspective says the closing of most traveling circuses left clowns without natural ways to entertain children in safe, large settings.
Whatever the reason, the number of clowns has dropped, and the mood of clowns has shifted. The majority of clown performers now use a sad clown routine at some point in their shows. Many older clowns find this shift irritating. Why? Clowns traditionally stirred laughter and helped bring smiles to the faces of kids and their parents.
Not only do we have more sad clowns in our world today, but we also have many Christians who have no joy. I don't think there is any cause/effect or correlation relationships between sad clowns and joyless Christians. But, both add to the heaviness of our modern times. Because Christians are paralyzed by fear, frustration, and discouragement, the witness of the church in the world flounders.
You might say, "Who can blame us, Shawn. Look at what the political polarization and the coronavirus have done to families, schools, jobs, and the economy! What do we have to be joyful about right now?" I get it. Our season of uncertainty and conflict is getting old. People are ready to live life again. I have the same fatigue and the same feelings! But, that does not mean life has to be joyless. Joy is happiness despite your circumstances.
The Apostle Paul experienced confinement to a house when he was held in Rome for preaching the Gospel. He wrote the Church at Philippians while he was chained to Roman guards watching him during his house arrest. What is amazing about the letter he wrote (now the New Testament Book of Philippians) is that Paul chooses to write from home isolation on the subject of joy and rejoicing. In the 104 verses in the book, the Apostle uses the terms "joy" or "rejoicing" sixteen times.
He opens the book recounting his joy in watching the believers at Philippi grow in the Lord. In Philippians 1:3-6, Paul talks about rejoicing in their progress and that in Paul's absence from the believers there, God continues to do what only He can do in growing His children. He celebrates that God will finish His work in the believers that read his letter as we remain faithful in living our lives for His glory.
Instead of complaining or pulling the believers in the Philippian church down with his own uncertainty and concerns, he declares in chapter four and verse four, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" How about you? Have you slid into a state of grumbling, operating out of fear, or giving up on what God has said?
If your life and walk with Christ has become joyless, take the time in the next week to read the Book of Philippians three times. Underline or highlight every time you come to the words, rejoice, joy, or joyful! Let God remind you that no matter what the circumstances of your life, you have hope, peace, and joy in Him!
I can't say God has a specific plan for clowns, but I know His plan for you is joy - no matter what you have faced, are facing, or will face in life!