How do you connect personally with Jesus? For some people it’s through music, they love the euphoria that comes with singing God’s praises. Others turn to prayer, those quiet moments when they can count their blessings and speak honestly with their creator. Still more find God in scripture, reading verses and parables about the life of Christ. Then there’s always Jimmy Fallon.
For Zach Hoag of A Deeper Story, watching The Tonight Show has become a new spiritual discipline. In Hoag’s eyes, many Christians have forgotten what it’s like to experience true, authentic joy. Instead, we have replaced the idea with a muted self-denial that ignores our problems. Jimmy Fallon, with his jokes, creative sketches, and optimistic laughter, reminds Hoag that the “joy of the Lord” is something far more powerful.
“I am not interested in an inauthentic emotional life, one which lauds brazen denial as true spirituality.
I am not interested in lying about the pain or covering for the inequality, injustice, oppression, arrogance.
I am not interested in sunny-side superficial spirituality that ignores lament and tells the prophets to declare peace, peace when there is no peace.
But I am also not interested in a life obsessed with the cold darkness, unable to see the brilliant light that is shining all around, all the time.
Because the joy of the Lord is my strength.”
Hoag is not alone in his feelings either. Kate Shellnutt of Christianity Today posted a similar article where she argued that Fallon's refreshing wit and genuine joy are proving cathartic for Christian viewers. Where other comedians get their laughs by insulting guests or leaning on sexual innuendo, Fallon just has fun. For Shellnutt, joy is looking past the brokenness and the pain to discover that there is beauty in the world. She writes,
“Just as we proclaim a God of grace and justice, of love and law, Christians need balance in our pop culture engagement. So do our neighbors. We need the light of the funny, silly, and joyful to glow in the dark. Shiny-happy shows don't tell the full truth, but neither do shows that punch us in the face. We've spent enough time embracing suffering and being skeptical of joy and happiness. All the more so if, as C.S. Lewis said, ‘Joy is the serious business of heaven.’"
How do you connect with Jesus? Maybe you have a list of songs that help you meditate on God. Perhaps prayer comes as naturally to you as breathing. A Scripture reading may fill your spirit until it overflows. If you have some time to spare though, try watching The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
Christians need to remember what the joy of the Lord feels like. It does not ignore pain, but embraces it. It does not flee suffering, but rises to meet it. It carries no scorn, only understanding. The joy of the Lord is our strength.
What are your thoughts? How do you find and where do you see the joy of the Lord?
*Ryan Duncan is the Culture Editor for Crosswalk.com