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April 23rd, 2012 @ 7:16 am by Kevin
Years ago when my two oldest kids (we have four) were still toddlers, one of their favorite TV shows was the Teletubbies. At first, I found this show as annoying, creepy and nonsensical as most parents do. But after a while, it actually began to grow on me, to the point where I preferred it over many of the other annoying shows they enjoyed.
One thing I liked about the Teletubbies was their interaction with the narrator of the show. Sometimes he’d open the episode by saying, “One day in Teletubby Land, all the Teletubbies were very, very happy.” In response, the Teletubbies would spring to their feet, and say, “Yes, yes, very happy!” Then they would launch into a flurry of activities to demonstrate just how happy they were. Laa-Laa would bounce her ball, Po would ride her scooter, Dipsy would tip his hat, and Tinky-Winky would swing his infamous bag.
Whenever this happened, I imagined that Teletubby Land was actually a concentration camp of sorts, and the Teletubbies were so quick to respond because there was someone standing behind the camera with a gun reminding them of what would happen if they weren’t so very, very happy…
Which brings me to John Piper. Yes, I follow him on Twitter. Partly because I’m a masochist, but mostly because he figured so prominently into the condemnation of Rob Bell with his famous words of farewell.
This morning I was skimming through my Twitter feed when I came across this post from Piper: “The real battle in life is to be as happy in God as we can be.”
Hmm… I thought to myself. That sounds a little self-centered, doesn’t it? I thought the real battle in life was to curb my selfish jerk impulses by making it my goal each day to to love God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength and to love my neighbor as myself.
The quote was followed by a link, so I clicked on it. It led to a blog post called Earnestness in Preaching (and Life), in which Piper extols the virtues of being “earnest about being earnest, not earnest about being joyful.”
Did you catch that?
It doesn’t really matter, because the part of the post that really got me was the concluding sentence, which reads, “The real battle in life is to be as happy in God as we can be, and that takes a very special kind of earnestness, since God threatens terrible things if we will not be happy.”
Which brings me back to the Teletubbies.
I think this is how John Piper imagines God to be–like my imaginary version of the Teletubbies narrator. He’s standing off camera with a gun. And when he says, “One day on earth, the Christians were very, very happy,” Christians like Piper leap up and say, “Yes, yes, very happy!” And then they set about demonstrating just how happy they are.
But it’s an annoying kind of happiness. Nonsensical too.
And very, very creepy.