God is Happy
SEPTEMBER 18, 2021
by Adam Ramsey
Ask someone in a church to list off as many attributes of God as they can, and chances are, “God is happy” won’t make it into their top twelve, if it makes the list at all. We readily (and rightly) identify that God is holy or that God is love or that God is sovereign. But in a way that is equally vital for a rightly shaped Christianity, we must learn to see that God is happy. This means that he has designed us in such a way that our walk with Jesus through a world riddled with pain and sin and suffering is simultaneously a journey in which we experience joy and pleasure and delight. If we were created for God, then we have been created for gladness. How could it be otherwise?
Every Good Gift
Think about it. Not only did God create the glorious greens and sparkling blues of places like Switzerland or Seattle in the summertime; he also gave us eyes to enjoy these colours. Not only did God create rhythm and melody and harmony; he gave us ears to delight in song and voices that we may join in. From the happy God comes every good gift contained within the human experience (James 1:17). Beauty and comedy; friendship and intimacy; playfulness and rejoicing; gladness and giggling; the rush of adrenaline and the contentment of rest; along with every delicious taste, scent, and sound—all of these exist for our enjoyment because a happy God willed them so.
God’s Happiness Changes the Way We Approach Him
Why is it so important that we see this? Why is it essential to a healthy Christianity to be convinced of the happiness of God? Because how we perceive a person’s demeanour determines how we will hear their words. Take, for example, the statement “Come here.” Without any context it seems to have a fairly straightforward meaning: approach the person
speaking. But now consider how differently that simple statement is interpreted, based on the disposition of the speaker. If they are scowling with fierce eyes and a furrowed brow, “Come here” may mean a threat of violence or a scolding from a superior. Yet if the speaker is smiling from ear-to-ear, those exact same words can be the call of a loving parent wanting to embrace their child or the intimate invitation of a lover.
Good News of Happiness
How you picture God when he speaks to you through the Scriptures profoundly matters. It is the difference between thinking you’re hearing from a “God” who wants you to change your life so that he can stand being around you, and a God who wants to embrace you so that your delight in him increasingly changes your life. It’s the difference between the rotten stench of moralism and the fragrant aroma of the gospel. And this gospel is what the prophet Isaiah calls “good news of happiness” (Isaiah 52:7), because it declares to us not the works we must do to make God happy but the works of a happy God on our behalf, so that his people may be happy in him.
This article is an excerpt from Truth on Fire. In the book, Adam Ramsey invites readers to engage both their minds and their emotions in their walk with God as they gaze at him until their hearts sing.