Consider this your six-month reminder: March 20 is the International Day of Happiness, and author Randy Alcorn is already telling us we should all celebrate the event, even Christians who have been taught “that God is interested in our holiness, not our happiness; that joy is the opposite of happiness; that joy isn’t an emotion.”
In fact, Alcorn, who last year wrote a book titled Happiness, tells Christianity Today this week that the church shouldn’t just acknowledge Happiness Day, we should embrace it:
Wouldn’t it be great if Bible-believing evangelical Christians were the first to put that day on the calendar and declare a day of feasting? Great food, great drink, partying, games for the kids. We could invite the community, wave the flags of various nations, welcome people from all different ethnic and national backgrounds, and just invite everyone to come eat and drink and have fun.
We don’t have to give them all a tract—though of course we can explain the Bible’s good news of happiness, that God sent his Son Jesus into the world. But it isn’t just a means to that end. You could take most of the outreach plans and programs of many evangelical churches and reach more people and give more people a favorable view of the gospel by celebrating a day like this. And then, when our kids are in their college dorms and hearing about all the stuff that can supposedly make them happy (drugs, sex, changing their worldview because Christianity is so negative and intolerant), they might remember amazingly great times of celebration alongside people of every tribe, language, worldview, and faith. That would go a long way toward dissolving the unfortunate notion that church is an unhappy place.
So, what calendar should you mark the date? Well, how about the “Happiness Is . . . 2017 Daily Calendar“? By the way, I cheated and looked ahead. March 20 says,
Happiness is . . . talking music with someone who gets it.
Alcorn talks about using the International Day of Happiness for cross-cultural outreach, and here’s a video, created by This American Life, that bridges its own cultural divide. It’s about Maggie, who is afraid to tell her “conservative Christian” parents about her 17 tattoos. She has this memory from her childhood:
I remember saying, “God wants me to be happy,” and my parents said, “No, he wants you to obey him. He doesn’t care if you’re happy.” To me God is so much more than that. There’s also grace. I think that is something that gets forgotten a lot in my family.
Turns out, their cultures aren’t as far apart as Maggie thought, and the distance between was bridged with an unexpected “ton of grace.”
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin!
Ah, yes, grace . . . and happiness.
(Jen Pollock Michel, “Randy Alcorn: God Wants You to Find Your Happy Place,” Christianity Today, September 27, 2016)
[photo: “Smile,” by Sofia, used under a Creative Commons license]