Let’s (Not) Be Serious

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.

-Rachel

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.

5 thoughts on “Let’s (Not) Be Serious

  1. Oh Rachel, I agree. :) I’m in the same boat you are, probably. Even when I’m being “deep” I still get a little tiny bit silly just to lighten things up ;)

  2. Hey Rachel,

    I totally understand wha you mean about people always being serious and never just loving what God has put in front of them.
    And I am very familiar with what you call “pompous theologians or skilled debaters or even self-righteous homeschoolers” and I can agree with anyone, that some theologians and homeschoolers alike need to not be so pushy and in people’s face etc. But then you say something like “Seriousness is not a virtue. So let’s stop treating it as such.” You are talking about two extremes. There *can* be a line in between.
    You are appealing to the crowd of younger teenage Christians, who are surrounded everyday with immaturity, godlessness etc. And they wonder, how do I behave? What’s ‘okay’ and what is actually ‘wrong’? With immaturity running ramp-id in our world, I don’t think anybody *needs* to be reminded to not be so serious (Which is kinda the point of your whole post).
    Frankly, I am tired of the whole younger generation being immature, not taking lessons from those older theologians that you mock, etc.
    There are men and women, most of them theologians or at least with an understanding of the Scripture, who have died and were executed for their beliefs. They risked their lives to write down their further understandings of God’s Word. But now everybody is just okay with not making any impact on our world or culture..
    Hebrews 6:1-2
    Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
    1 Corinthians 13:11
    When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.

    1 Corinthians 14:20
    Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.

    Hebrews 5:12-14
    For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
    These verses are talking about being mature and serious etc..

    Yes, some people do debate to show how important they are. Yes,some do only study God’s Word out of selfishness, but that is not in the same boat as not being serious. Please, don’t take this in the “I know everything, I just want to stifle your creative flow” sort of way. And if I didn’t like your funny quirks or your cute dresses or an escape from reality, I wouldn’t be here. :)
    I just want to see more younger people, like myself, act in a way that honors God, builds His Kingdom, and furthers their walk in Christ. While being mature…aka being serious

    Anyway-I hope you can kind of understand where I am coming from. Have a great day!

    In Christ,
    Grace D.

    • Grace, thank you for your well-thought out response! I one hundred percent agree with you and I did wonder if I did a good job of thoroughly explaining my position in my post without coming across as extreme (which is why I added the note at the end explaining myself even further). I agree with your challenge to young people to step up to the plate and live their lives fully for Christ! I hope that is what I do every day through my blog, my books, my businesses, and my way of conducting myself! I apologize to anyone who thought that my post prohibited being mature or thinking deeply on the things of God. I was definitely just talking about the extreme homeschoolers who let their love for intelligence and scholarly excellence get in the way of their zeal for Christ. Thanks for pointing this out and I hope that your comment speaks to other young people who are feeling the same thing! :)
      -Rachel

      • Thanks, Rachel. It’s comforting to know you feel that way.
        I know what you mean by ‘extreme’ homeschoolers. I hope to can count me not one of them.. In the meantime, I would like to challenge more kids my age to behave like adults, and step outside of the box they are in.

        I hope you are enjoying not having to go to school this Fall. ;)

        In Christ,
        Grace

  3. Great post! I love this idea. The people who take knowledge too seriously are kind of sad to watch. They don’t realize that it’s possible to be serious and joyful at the same time. It’s just sad.

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