I popped open one of my apps last night and noticed that once again (and this is a good thing!) there was a blog getting some traction about the relationship between the Christian and happiness. It wasn’t surprising to me. Not for a minute. I had been thinking about it too. I don’t know if it’s because I generally have too much time to think this time of year (I love to sit out during the week of the 4th of July and I did again this year!) or because there is that little line in the Declaration of Independence that while we remember little else of it we do seem to perpetually share in our collective memory the words life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. So I don’t know if it’s too much time on my hands or our Declaration, but I too have been thinking about happiness recently. Apparently others have been too.
Because who doesn’t want more of it? And what Christian these days doesn’t have a firm theology of it? You know what I mean? I think just about everybody has some kind of personal belief system about it. We may not have crystallized it, but on some level we have all worked out for ourselves whether or not we think God’s committed to our personal happiness. And a lot of times we have come to believe that in some way, shape, or form God has a personal declaration of his own that he is pursuing on our behalf: God is pursuing happiness for me! And so we sort of imagine our God showed up on our scene through birth and death and resurrection to sweep us away to a kind of eternal divine theme park. Unicorns! Cotton candy! Gum drops! Rainbows! You get the picture.
And please understand something. I do think God cares deeply about our emotional state. Deeply! I would never say differently. I never have. It’s just that I’ve always felt that while happiness is nice it’s sort of cotton candy nice. And that while happiness is enjoyable it’s sort of the emotional equivalent to a sugar rush. I think Christians have always sensed that on some level. Perhaps that’s because the Scriptures never seem to push hard on our happiness. You have to stretch a lot of verses to get there. Or perhaps it’s because we seem to understand that if in the great Christological moments of the Bible (Think Jesus’ birth and resurrection) if the gospel writers told us about the impact of Jesus by saying, “Happiness on earth,” or, “Happiness be with you,” we might even have been just a little disappointed. As if the best Jesus could offer us as we work our way through this world so busted up by sin was a way to “happy” our way through it.
I’m going to suggest that God is up to something else - that God built us for something more than something akin to an emotional sugar rush or an emotional fix during the pain. I'm not, however, going to make that suggestion now. I need a lot more time to adequately develop the idea. I have that time on Sunday at 10:00am at Peace. We'd love for you come join us! You can right here. For more important sermons in our Romans sermon series, click here.
- Pastor Jonathan