Clinging to our idea of happiness.

Happiness seems like a noble goal.  Who wouldn’t want to be happy?  And who wouldn’t want others to be happy?  But, if we chase happiness as our main pursuit, we soon discover that the hopes, promises and schemes of happiness are a hoax.

There are 2 big happiness lies that get told again and again.

1) I deserve to be happy.

2) God would want me to be happy.

The pursuit of happiness is such a prominent motivation today that even “Christian” preachers have tried to co-opt it.  They write and sell books promising a happy and prosperous life.  In fact, God never promises what we would define as “happiness.”  If that were God’s promise, we could no longer read the Scriptures with any confidence.  Becuase it is filled with men and women who were faithful to God and never experienced the thing we so desire.

I know, as American Christians, we claim happiness as our right.  It’s one of the inalienable rights listed in the Declaration of Independence.  They read, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  But in our day and age, we have redefined happiness as a life that flits from one enjoyable experience to another.  This wasn’t the expectation or the experience of the men who wrote that document.

Our hunger for happiness has turned God and His Word upside down.  Over the last 25 years, there have been people who have told me that God has led them into situations that are sinful (as defined by His standards of holiness), so they could have some measure of “happiness.”

When we are oriented toward God and His word, we discover that:

1) Happiness is a by-product of fellowship with God.

2) This kind of fellowship often includes suffering and struggle (not our picture of happiness).

3) In the struggle, God shapes us toward Christ-likeness.

4) Christ-likeness brings a lasting joy and state of blessing (happiness), as described in the Beattitudes of Matthew 5:3-12 (Being spiritually needy, sorrowful over sin, humble, hungering for God’s ways, mercy-filled, pure in heart, peace producers and persecuted).  But also experiencing God’s favor.

To pursue happiness without first pursuing God and His will, is like a dog chasing its own tail.  It seems to hold promise until you really grab hold of it… then “ouch!”

Before I go, let me clearly and biblically address the lies above:

1) “I deserve to be happy.”  Actually, Romans 3:23 says, we deserve death.  Our sin has separated us from God, from whom eternal happiness comes.  As soon as we raise ourselves above that simple definition, we run the danger of arrogantly placing ourselves above the will of God.

2) “God wants me to be happy.”  In fact, God wants us to be holy (1 Peter 1:13-16).  As we walk in His holiness, our happiness will no longer be conditioned upon our circumstances, but it will be rooted in our connection to Him through faith and faithfulness.

Forgive me if this sounds a little too “preachy.”  But I fear we are wasting our lives chasing the wind.  I also fear that we create even more havoc in other’s lives because we’re chasing a personal happiness.  And lastly, that we believers are giving a distorted view of God because we live like His great purpose is to make us happy.

So let’s not cling to the lies of happiness.  But cling to Jesus Christ and God’s Word.  This will bring us real joy!