Celebration Must Resist Cynicism
The month of May brings wonderful opportunities to celebrate! We affirm our moms and congratulate students who reach the milestone of graduation. We buy gifts. We gather. We eat. We laugh. We connect. This mental picture reminds me of the lyrical description: “Seldom is heard a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day.”*
Can you imagine a Mother’s Day or graduation gathering where the attendees are grumbling and complaining? No thank you. Count me out. I prefer gratitude and affirmation. I appreciate curiosity and childlike enthusiasm.
In the final chapter of his book Beautiful Resistance, Jon Tyson writes, “When we take time to celebrate, whether personally or communally, we are bringing the glory of God into the brokenness of the world around us. We’re accurately representing the God we serve and offering tangible grace to the world” (pg. 160).
Our world can be a dark, difficult place, and bad things do happen. The 24-hour news cycle and social media platforms constantly feed us a diet of despair, but the Scriptures declare that God is good! We see God respond to the evil in our world with sorrow and anger, but His character is defined by love, joy, and peace.
We are created in God’s image to be His representation in the world. May we be people of hope who can love others with joy and peace, giving out what we ourselves have received from the Holy Spirit (see Romans 13:15).
Our lives should celebrate the goodness of God because He is good. What He creates and accomplishes is good. God revealed to Job that when He laid the earth’s foundations: “The morning stars sang together, and all the angels shouted for joy” (Job 38:7). May we also sing together and shout for joy as we celebrate the good that God is still producing in our world. Have you seen someone healed, set free, or restored? That’s the good work of God; let’s celebrate!
God is generous, reliable, ever-present, and strong. He has revealed Himself through the Word. Need I say more? I will! Forgiveness, restoration, and purpose is the “good news of great joy” that the angels proclaimed when the Father sent His Son into the world (see Luke 2:10). Jesus came to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (see Luke 4:16-21). Tyson writes, “This is why Jesus came. He wanted not a year of Jubilee but a culture of jubilee. His whole ministry was to be defined as a celebration of our redemption and restoration by God” (pg. 153).
Take time to read the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son in Luke 15. These stories were told by Jesus to a group of muttering Pharisees and teachers of the law. Let’s be like Jesus and insist that the work of God includes celebration. Will we join the feast or refuse to participate?
To conclude, allow me to share one final thought from Jon Tyson: “Cynicism is killing our nation. It’s destroying our hearts. It’s putting us in a place where we cannot appreciate the joy that comes from the good news we have been given. But God has an antidote to cynicism—His presence, His redemption, and His fullness of joy. . . . May celebration overflow in your life and resist the cynicism we face today” (pg. 160).
Jon Tyson, Beautiful Resistance: The Joy of Conviction in a Culture of Compromise (Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah, 2020).