Today I heard the phrase “shiny, happy Christians” and it literally made me laugh out loud. The idea that anyone, much less a Christian, would be all the time and always shiny and happy.
I’ve seen the shiny, happy Christian before. The Christian who is always dressed nice, with their hair dyed and done, always smiling and outgoing, always doing what’s good, eating right, exercising, studying and working. And of course, going to church and praising God with all their heart, body and soul.
They give the image that everything in their life is perfect. They are baptized, they have Christ, so why would anything be wrong? Life can’t go wrong then, you can’t be wrong then, after all, you’ve committed to being a Christian. And Christians are good people, right? And Jesus forgave you and made you into a new creation, right?
Except not really. You see, the shiny, happy Christian doesn’t exist. It was never meant to exist. The shiny, happy Christian is in denial that we are all just humans: whole and broken, saint and sinner. The shiny, happy Christian is in denial that even with Jesus, life can be painful and full of bumps and bruises. God never promised anyone that life would be shiny and happy. God never promised that being Christian would make us shiny and happy, or immune to pain and suffering.
God promised us that, although we live in a broken and sinful world, and that although we will be broken and in pain sometimes, that our lives will not always be easy, shiny and happy, that in the valleys and in the peaks God will be with us through it all. Holding us and crying with us when we are sad and broken. Celebrating and dancing with us when we are joyful and excited.
We are baptized into Christ, into God’s family. With Christ we are made new creations. We are not made into better humans though, we are simply washed clean with the waters of baptism and the power of the Holy Spirit. Our baptism is renewed each day. We are not better humans when we are baptized, we are simply forgiven humans. Forgiven and loved so that we can live freed from the chains of a broken world, living in the hope of Christ and sharing that hope and joy through loving and forgiving others.