Recently, our church hosted a movie night. We gathered together in the fellowship hall and watched the Pixar film “Inside Out.” And if you haven’t seen it, I would recommend putting it on your list. It’s fantastic. Pixar movies, while goofy and funny and “kid-friendly”, have a way of revealing deep truths about the human experience; in fact, the Youth Group is currently working through a teaching series called The Gospel According to Pixar. Inside Out tells the story of an 11 year-old girl named Riley, who is dealing with the reality that her family has moved from Minnesota to San Francisco, California. But the main characters are actually “emotions” that take place inside her head: Joy, Fear, Disgust, Anger, and Sadness.
Be warned, there might be a spoiler or two coming! Throughout the film, Joy is considered to be the most important emotion. After all, Joy is the one who keeps Riley happy. Joy causes Riley to smile, to laugh, and to play. But at one point in the film, Joy, along with Sadness, gets lost inside Riley’s head. Fear, Anger, and Disgust were now calling the shots. All of them panicked, believing that without Joy, Riley would never be herself again. At one point in the story, Joy comes to realize that what Riley really needed was to feel sad. Everyone thought that Joy would fix everything, but in reality, she needed Sadness.
Without a doubt, the Christian life is characterized by joy. The Apostle Paul, on many occasions tells communities to “Rejoice!” This is a part of who we are. We ought to celebrate the Gospel, which is good news not just for us, but for all of creation. But there is also a place for sadness. On Friday, November 13th, 2015, the news broke about a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in the city of Paris. News coverage of the attacks were on nearly every channel. Our Facebook news feeds were filled with images and articles recalling the tragic events. I watched the endless cycle of news coverage, and I felt sad. On that evening, joy was nowhere to be found.
And I must admit, I’m not sure how to make sense of it all. I have no theological explanation for the events of the past week. But like the story of Inside Out, I’m scared that we might be letting Fear, Anger, and Disgust call the shots. We are quick to blame others, seek revenge, and promote more violence. I don’t wish to say that anyone who has been disgusted or angered by these events has done wrong. But again, in the Christian life, there is a place for sadness. We know this because Christ himself wept at the death of his friend Lazarus. Jesus knew that this death was not final, but he wept nonetheless. He wept because his friend was dead, and it was sad. So, we weep with France, and Baghdad, and Beirut. We weep for a world longing for the light of Christ. Come, Lord Jesus, that our sadness might one day come to an end.