The Christian life can be a challenge. It's often made even more difficult by those on the outside looking in, those who think they understand a few things here and there and try to set traps to trip you up. This is one of the things that Paul wrote about to the Galatian church, but it's interesting what he says to them.
He doesn't say that they need to watch themselves, that living as hypocrites is going to get them in trouble. He doesn't warn them against being stumbling blocks to a watching world, as ambassadors of the faith or whatever. He doesn't caution them against being wrong about something. Instead, what he says is this:
Some are spying on you because of your faith and joy, and they will use that to trap you. (Galatians 2)
They will use the good things in your life, the things you're getting right, the things that fulfill and satisfy your soul, the things God always desired to give you...they will use those things to try to trap you. To try to convince you that what seems like it's working...isn't working. To try to tell you that it's all whitewash, that you're naive. To try to bring up all the things that aren't faith and joy and force you to deal with them.
And that's still happening.
It's happening to a lot of us right now. We're working diligently to get faith right. We've found a measure of joy in our lives that isn't touched by the troubles of this world. It's a peace that passes understanding. And the moment that we start to hold onto that, the moment that we start to build our lives around it, someone in the world watching steps up and says, "But...."
But there's still tragedy in the world. But there's still heartache. But there's still sin, even in your life. But God is still a vengeful God. But He hasn't really saved you yet. But you're still here, in the body, just like the rest of us.
Basically, you're a fool. How can you ever explain that you're not?
Because the minute this world can convince you that your joy isn't real, they've got you. The minute they can convince you that your faith is nothing, you're done. Take what seems so real and vital, what is promised to you by God, and convince you otherwise, and the whole curtain drops. Or rather, it is sewn back together and the holiest of holies is once again closed off to you. They don't have to tell you that your faith is stupid. They don't have to tell you that you're wrong about it. They don't have to show you the history and the documents that disprove it. All they have to do is get you to think that one piece of it, just one piece, isn't what it seems to be, and you question the whole thing.
All they have to convince you of is that your joy...isn't really joy. And all of a sudden, the world isn't just watching for our mistakes any more. They aren't just watching for our failures. It's not enough to not be a hypocrite. They're watching our successes. They're watching what we're getting right. They're watching our joy, waiting for it to crack...or waiting to crack it. Our joy! Something we are least on our guard about because it feels so right, so blessed, so holy.
All that to say this: when the world raises a question, you don't have to necessarily worry that it means you've gotten something wrong. You don't have to go back to the drawing board and call everything into question. You don't have to think that you've messed up again, that you're never going to get this right. Sometimes...sometimes the world raises a question because you're getting it right. Because you've got something good, and this world can hardly fathom it. And because it's beyond their wildest imagination, they want to put it out of your grasp. But you don't have to let them.
Keep your joy. Keep your faith. They are good things; they really are. No matter what anyone says. This world? It's just trying to trap you. But joy and faith? They're free.