taking the words of Jesus seriously

They say a smile is a baby’s first “human response.”  It’s smiling that makes the child more than an animal.  Despite what some animal lovers might say, animals don’t smile.  This is a call that in the name of Christ you are to put on a smile and demonstrate your humanity.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus explicitly says that when you pray and do your spiritual exercises, you should not look dour and sad or even distraught.  He calls upon us to have shining faces.  People should not look at us and see by the heaviness in our eyes and in our mouth that we are doing something pious.

True spirituality claims Christ and requires a joyful countenance.  No wonder the church father, Irenaeus , once said, “The glory of God is a human being who is fully alive.”

Here are a few truisms that are worth remembering:

  1. You have no control over what you get; only over what you give.
  2. You have no control over how long you live; you only have control over how well you live.
  3. Play the hand that you are dealt.  If you look at it closely, it’s a better hand than you think you were dealt.
  4. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.  In other words, it’s never too late to become what you might have been.
  5. “It’s not what you do that makes you great, ” said Henri Nouwen, “it’s how you do it.”
  6. Mother Teresa said, “We can’t all do great things, be we all can do small things with great love.

In ministry and in life we can wear our work and our accomplishments on our sleeve or we can keep them in secret, revealing them only to God. It is the latter that we find in Scripture and the latter that should guide our thoughts and actions.

About The Author


Tony Campolo is Professor of Sociology at Eastern University, and was formerly on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania. For 40 years, he founded and led the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education, an organization that created and supported programs serving needy communities in the Third World as well as in “at risk” neighborhoods across North America. More recently, Dr. Campolo has provided leadership for the Red Letter Christians movement. He blogs regularly at his own website. Tony and his wife Peggy live near Philadelphia, and have two children and four grandchildren.

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