by Robert Brow (www.brow.on.ca), Kingston, Ontario, September 2006
How can you say God smiles when there is not one reference to smiling in the Bible? And yet smiling seems to be an essential characteristic of genuine Christian faith.
Obviously some kinds of smiling are not compatible with the love of God. There is the smile of the torturer who loves to watch his victims writhing in agony. When gladiators were made to fight in the Roman arena, the emperor and his officers smiled as a brave man died. And there is the smile of self-satisfaction when an opponent is defeated in a business deal.
But here is a list of some of the smiles that make life happier and more beautiful:
THE SMILE OF GREETING As I have been convalescing from a stroke, I have gone walking every day. I try smiling at those I meet. About one in five are happy to respond with a smile. My wife Mollie who died two years ago was known as the lady who smiled at everyone. A warm loving church congregation is recognized by the smiles.
THE SMILE OF WELCOME Lovers smile when they see each other. We smile at friends and relatives and children. If people don’t smile when you come to their home you know you are not welcome. "Please come another day when it is more convenient for me." But that can also be turned into a smile as we say "Can you come later this afternoon?"
THE SMILE OF FORGIVENESS When we are greeted with a smile if we have made a terrible blunder or said the wrong thing, we know we are forgiven.
THE SMILE FOR ENEMIES Paul said "Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:21). The best way of restoring a relationship or winning over an enemy is to make up our mind to smile when we meet them.
The problem is that each of these kinds of smile only emerges from adopting a heart attitude. The smile begins long before it is expressed. With an enemy or tiresome person at work you have to practice the smile till it comes out naturally at the right moment.
Now we can see that God’s love for us is a continuing greeting. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit love it when we notice them on the way. They never exclude us or say "come back when it is convenient for me." And there is always forgiveness for us, however badly we have failed or hurt one of the members of the Trinity. Their way of winning over enemies is by smiling at them again and again.
Having grasped the smiles of God, we can then ask for the miracle of smiling to bubble up from deep within our heart. When that happens life takes on a wonderfully new quality of love and joy and peace.