If there’s one thing that bothers me about homeschooling, it’s homeschoolers. Because, like it or not, we can be a pretty awful group of young people. We may be polite, ambitious, and smart–but by, golly are we polite, ambitious, and smart! We refer to twenty-two-year-olds as “Mr.” and “Mrs.”, we carry around two hundred page planners in our purses in case we forget about our commitments to volunteer at the library and take those extra calculus classes at the community college, and we debate foreign oil and constitutional rights at the dinner table, in between discussing whether or not wars that happened three hundred years ago would be acceptable in modern society under generals who have been in their graves since before they even sold prepackaged bread.
I say all this with tongue-in-cheek because, surprise surprise, I am a homeschool graduate and am guilty of several of the above grievances. I’ve baked my homemade bread, written my sixty-page thesis, and pondered whether or not I would secede with Texas should worst come to worst.
That being said, I’m not a very serious person. I’m passionate, I’m thoughtful, and I’m deep (sometimes), but I’m not very serious.
I used to think that was a bad thing. I struggled with whether or not it was sinful of me to think that people who spend all their time discussing the original Greek meanings of random theological words and debating utilitarianism are actually wasting their lives away. Was I the one with the problem? Was the fact that it intimidated me to passionately discuss the political views of some guy who died four hundred and fifty years ago a bad thing?
No, I realized. It wasn’t. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a not-so-serious person. It took me years to realize this, and to be quite honest I didn’t exactly come across it all on my own. I was reading a little book called “Orthodoxy” by G.K. Chesterton, when God opened my eyes to His views on seriousness, and its many downfalls.
The long and short of it is this: Serious people are by far the easiest victims of pride. Of arrogance and self-importance. Because the deeper you think of yourself, the deeper you actually fall into temptation and sin. (Proverbs 11:12, 16:18, 26:12) We spend so much time developing our own intellects–wrapping ourselves up in our studies of politics, philosophy, and theology. It’s not wrong to learn, or desire to know more about God and the world He has given us! But at the end of the day we take our learning so seriously that the one thing we seem to have a doctorate in is our own vast field of knowledge.
We take ourselves seriously because it is the easiest thing to do, Chesterton points out. We study because we want to be people who know deep things. We debate because we want to prove our own intelligence. And we boast because we want others to realize just how studious and intelligent we really are. It doesn’t take much effort to flaunt, to question, to debate. But how much more humility and character does it take to laugh at yourself? To recognize your own feeble mind and to be able to smile and rejoice at what Christ has been able to do through your silly, fumbling self?
Seriousness is not a virtue. So let’s stop treating it as such.
The beauty of the Gospel isn’t in our ability to learn and grow and impress nonbelievers with our knowledge of theology and church history. We aren’t called to be scholars and lecturers and debaters for Christ. We are called to be salt and light.
Salt. Flavorful. Full of joy, hope, and abiding cheerfulness. Always quick to smile, to laugh, to share an encouraging word. Salting our language with beautiful truths about God and His love for us.
Light. Radiating the beauty of Christ and the grace poured out upon us through His death and resurrection. Open faces and hearts that are always pouring out love to those around us.
There is no room in the Gospel for serious scholars. There is no room for pompous theologians or skilled debaters or even self-righteous homeschoolers. There is only room for broken hearts eager to learn about Christ. There is only space for individuals hungering after God and longing to draw near to Him. There is sorrow and there is worship and there is a sobering realization of what we are apart from Christ. But there is no seriousness.
There is only joy. There are only smiles, and laughs, and love in our hearts.
So live your life with an ever-increasing desire to depart from this world’s false illusions on what it means to be a serious Christian. Forget about your own intellectual self-importance and fall into the grace and joy that comes with knowing Christ. Laugh at life and embrace every moment with the kind of reckless happiness that causes those around you to wonder at the joy in your heart. If you’re going to be serious, then be seriously happy. That’s what a life lost in Jesus looks like.
EDIT: Please don’t take this post to mean that it’s sinful or wrong to study the attributes of God through theology, to debate your faith with nonbelievers in love and humility, or to think with sobering gravity on the weight and consequences of your sin. The seriousness that I’m talking about in this post is a proud, self-righteous love of our own intelligence. It’s definitely not wrong to, yes, seriously think about our own sin and the consequences of it. But we should rejoice in the sufficient love and grace of Christ and let that joy free us from boasting in our own strength or minds.