Sourpuss Christianity …OK, Hump Day Readers, I’m hoping you have a smile on your face today! After all, we are the children of God who created us and loves us so much we can’t even fathom it…but—yep here is that word, but why do so many people who are Jesus Followers have a sourpuss Christianity? It’s like they drink vinegar on the hour!

Many of you remember the first chain of hotels started a long time ago—Holiday Inn. It was owned by a family which still retains their business. When they started up they put out all kinds of posters/ads for 500+ people to fill positions in a large new hotel. Mind you, this was not in the days of smartphones and Wi-Fi. You have to love their ideas about what they wanted these new applicants to be. For instance, Round One: this first cut was the easiest for the new applicants because all they had to do was smile! As the owner watched carefully the interaction of these applicants, he decided that those who smiled more than 4 times would go to the next round; and those who didn’t smile more than 4 times were out, period.

I know this seems counterpoint to what most corporations do in finding new prospects, but remember, what is the most important when you check into a hotel? Who hasn’t had a crabby attendant; or has had to wait and wait until finally someone stumbles up to the counter—we could share stories all day, good or bad, about hotels. One time I was leading a women’s retreat. When I arrived at the hotel to check-in a lady came to the counter and I couldn’t help but see the beautiful cross she had on her necklace. However, the lady’s attitude was nothing close to the joy of what the cross of Christ has for us. I decided she was one of those ‘sourpuss Christians’ who were stuck on bad communion wine! I tried cheering her up but the longer she talked the more depressed I got. The next morning a lively young man was at the counter and all I could think of was “he should be the lead here, what a fantastic demeanor, kind, funny and accommodating. Whether he was a Christian or not, I didn’t know, but he certainly had the JOY of the Lord!

Another time I was working with the late Dr. Oswald Hoffmann up in northern Michigan. It was a huge rally in Ontonagon, and the high school gym was packed with people. The front row had 8 nuns! When Dr. Hoffman came in he said his normal hearty “hello dear Christians” and outside of the nuns, it was like a “OMG-I’m dead” response. So, what does he do, he shouts out “well, you guys are stuck in a seven-day rain and you have sourpuss all over your faces!” The response? Hearty laughter, clapping, and the rest of the day went beautifully.

In Psalm 16:11 [NLT] David writes: “You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.”

And in Galatians 5:22-23 [Voice] the Apostle Paul writes: “The Holy Spirit produces a different kind of fruit: unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kindheartedness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You won’t find any law opposed to fruit like this.”

Dear Christians, JOY is a fruit of the Spirit of God within us, so one would reason that JOY would automatically be more evident on the faces of those who are believers in Christ. But honestly, it seems more Christians miss out on the gift of JOY that God gives us because we pick up so much excess baggage throughout our lives which gets in the way and gives us a sourpuss perspective. How easy does anger, sadness, bitterness, and cynicism creep into our lives and overcomes the JOY-filled life God wants us to have? Yes, Dr. Hoffman had it right, we too often live with a “7-day rain perspective—sourpuss on our faces!”

In closing, remember this powerful action from the Lord: God gives us the gift of JOY so we can experience the fullness of God. O precious believers, don’t miss out on this incredible gift by letting negative emotions get in the way. Let the JOY of the Lord shine through in all circumstances so we can experience the fullness of God’s blessings every single moment of every day. Give the sourpuss to the lemons and bask in the Joy of Christ. AMEN!