Is religion duty? Good question, but before we answer let us define our terms. For most the term religion connotes a dry set of values that must be followed at all costs, including the cost of joy. Religion brings to mind the Puritans, men and women wearing black clothing with long somber faces, out to kill the witches. And while this is not a very accurate picture of what the Puritans actually confessed to be true religion, the connotation has stuck. Religion kills joy. Non-religion is a life of parties and fun. This leaves us with an unfortunate choice; you can follow your religious duty and be miserable or you can leave religion behind for the sake of your joy.
Religion is duty. Non-religion is joy. What will you choose? What an unfortunate choice we are forced to make!
This upcoming school year we are going to focus on exposing that choice as being a false dichotomy and ultimately unbiblical. Matthew 13:44 is the parable of the hidden treasure. In this parable a man hears of a treasure buried in a hidden field. As any sensible person would do, this man sells everything he has to purchase this field, for the value of the buried treasure far outweighs whatever he currently possesses. The description of how the man sells all that he owns is that he does so “in his joy!”
Was the man under duty? Yes. He felt a need to sell everything he owned. Was that duty joyless? Absolutely no. His religious duty was the happiness moment of his life.
So let’s be done with false dichotomies that pit duty against joy. And in return let us celebrate that God wants us to follow him for the sake of our joy.
The theme for our school year is “For Your Joy!” from Philippians 3:25. I’m praying it will be a school year of increasing joy for all that are serious about finding it.