So, let me ask you a question today: how “good” is your good news? In a post about a month ago called The Theology of Canadian Humor, I touched briefly on the relationship between the believer’s attitude and the attractiveness of the Gospel he shares. Building off of points raised by Randy Alcorn in his new book, Happiness (which you should buy, by the way), we need to dig a little deeper on this topic.
It is impossible to understand and treasure the good news of abundant life in Christ and be an essentially unhappy, discontented, gloomy person. What could possibly eclipse the joy of spending eternity in a new heaven and a new earth with Jesus? What circumstances could rival the promise of life in Jesus? Certainly, there are times and seasons of sadness for the believer. Alcorn argues, though (and I’m convinced he’s right) that God himself is happy, and that He imparts this happiness to those who experience Him through the abundant blessings He gives us. The enduring, default expression of the follower of the happy Jesus is an expanding smile, not a stodgy frown.
The interesting corollary for disciple-making is that happy people are better cut out for this mission than those who are unhappy, for at least two reasons. First, whenever a speaker espouses a certain point, people naturally evaluate the speaker himself in judging whether or not the point is persuasive. The Greeks called this element of persuasion ethos. Nobody wants to adopt a worldview that he thinks is going to make him miserable. When we share a message that we allege to be life-changing, people assume that if they accept that message, their lives will change to be, in some measure, like ours. That’s a very attractive prospect for them if happiness pervades our lives.
Second, if we are happy people, it’s more likely that others will listen to what we have to say in the first place. In a fascinating book called The Charisma Myth, Olivia Fox Cabane argues that charisma can be taught, and that its primary behaviors are presence, power, and warmth. Our warmth and approachability naturally are greater when we’re happy. After all, do you like being around gloomy people? For the ambassador for Christ, happiness opens the door to interactions that wouldn’t otherwise be there.
What do you think? Leave us a comment and let us know how you’ve seen your attitude impact your influence on others.
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