The Pursuit of Happiness – a Highway to Hell?

Just the other day I received an email from a gay man I know explaining why he had decided to leave his lover. Why he felt the need to explain to me was not clear to me. Nonetheless, he assured me that due to ongoing difficulties in his relationship he needed to leave as he surely has the right to be happy and he had become increasingly unhappy in the previous relationship. Whilst I am fairly sure that this man has little understanding of the Gospel, I continue to be amazed at the number of Christians that justify leaving marriages, disobeying God and pursuing sin on the same basis. Confidently many believers have told me, “Surely I have the right to be happy and surely this is what God must also want for me.”

I must confess that personally I find our present society’s ardent pursuit of happiness a philosophical nonsense. If you question most people regarding what happiness is, few have any idea. If you ask them what it will take to give them happiness, most have more of an idea. They will tell you that if they have a good job, happy relationships, health, a good income and a nice house then they will be happy. Some have assured me if they win the Lotto that will do it. Of course everyone has a different idea as to what is required and most believe that what they require is more than what they have. Often it is also up to others to help insure the required state and rarely dependent on the one seeking.

On the wrong track

Ultimately, without realising it, most people are seeking hell. Most are seeking to gain life apart from God. As Christians, God has never promised us happiness, certainly not in the sense that many understand and certainly not in this life. Instead he calls us to lay aside all our rights, even our lives, and obey him whatever the outcomes. Of course as we obey him and lay down our lives and our rights we discover that he fills us with his life, his joy, his peace and thankfulness. Often we discover that after losing all that we thought would insure happiness we discover that now we are indeed happy.

Happiness is simply a by product of obedience, a by product of knowing we are loved and are assured of the pleasure of our Father.

If we demand or seek happiness in and of itself we will find that it alludes us. If on the other hand we simply seek God’s Kingdom and righteousness as our first priority then we may well discover that God gives us all the other things including happiness. We don’t need to fight for it, demand it, seek it or strive for it. It is ours as an overflow of the Father’s generosity and grace. And even more amazingly it is not determined by the circumstances of our life, our income, our health or the abilities of a spouse to satisfy us.