What does it mean to follow Christ? Is this a somber and serious thing, or a playful experience with surprises?
These questions weren’t on my mind until after I heard Claremont Graduate University professor Mary Poplin speak Saturday afternoon. She spoke about her coming to Christ, from being a “very dark” person who experimented with New Age spirituality to inexplicable weeping bouts before teaching her classes.
The crying made no sense to Poplin, especially as she is a “Thinking” type on the Myers-Briggs indicator, she said. But it all came together when someone asked a question, “Was it hard to come back after working with Mother Teresa?” The audience comprised over two hundred female school administrators and, although it was a “secular audience,” Poplin said the sudden clarity led her to blurt out why the tears kept returning.
Even as tears rolled down her cheeks again, she explained that the emotion came from knowing people in India who were honestly living as Christ followers while knowing that she was far from living in that way. “I felt like a liar,” she confessed.
Poplin’s talk moved me because her joy was evident. Although she discussed heavy topics, her talk was interrupted by short giggles.
When Mother Teresa shook a finger at her one day, she expected a lecture on how “spiritually poor” Americans are. Instead, Mother Teresa warned/encouraged her, “You fall in love with Jesus more and more each day!” Poplin was surprised, then impressed by the brilliance of Mother Teresa who understood that all things need to start from the heart.
And in seeing the obvious – even childlike – mirth with which Poplin relished retelling her own story, I caught a glimpse of the infectious joy of a life lived with Christ.
Christians really should have access to a deeper level of joy and peace in living. Indeed, our existence in God and presence in God’s creation should engender joy. But this truly is a joy based on relationship and a peace that is built on the foundation of trusting Christ. Christ’s “yoke is easy and (his)is burden light” because, though there is work to be done, we recognize that there is absolute assurance that we will be endowed with strength in through the Holy Spirit to accomplish the task. That said, there is a place for weeping, but joy should still come in the morning.