Friday, March 27, 2009

being happy

Recently Scot McKnight at Jesus Creed had an interesting post on happiness, and a kind of happiness index on which the Netherlands came out near the top, having one of the most happy people, supposedly, in the world. And that nation just happens to be one of the least religious. The post and comments are good.

Of course while the world might get quite a few things right about what it means to be happy, other matters are not taken into account. And the Christian belief does not at all mean that nonChristians will live unhappy lives. God's blessings are poured out on the righteous and the unrighteous alike, and in common grace, God fills people's lives with good things, and hearts with joy. The goodness of God is meant to bring people to repentance.

Add to that, the Christian message is about a cross and following the One who was nailed to the cross. We're called to the same existence in this life. It's to be a life of joy in the Spirit, a blessed life in communion with God and others in Jesus. But not a life assured of safety from troubles, even famine, destitution, persecution and death. The promise is of a blessed life in God's love through Jesus.

We live in the midst of good news, a news we're to live out and share with others. But people must have a sense that this good news is about something they need, and this is where trouble comes since people can be offended. And there is the devil who is at war against God's people.

Most every day I experience happiness of one sort or another. But I can also experience a darkness manifest in different ways, and I can realize that I am to live out a life of faith in that darkness. That part is neither easy, nor happy, but I find time and time again, as I continue on in faith, I find God's blessedness going through it, and even by it.

I just noticed in finding Scot's post linked above, that it was not just about being happy, but being moral. Of course that's a part of God's image still on humanity, and from which in part God makes the appeal to us on how we should live as humans created in God's image, and to help us see how we do need a Savior. But we can leave that part for perhaps another time.

What thoughts would you like to share on this?


Crowm said...

Charles Schultz once did a series on "Happiness is..." Charley Brown ascribed happiness to an ice cream cone. For Lucy, happiness was annoying Charley Brown. And for Linus, happiness was a tattered blanket.

I wonder at times about our definition of what it means to be happy. Does God really call us to a life of happiness? I think about our predecessors in the faith and remember Christ telling them they would be persecuted. Despite their turmoil, they were to take heart that the persecution was temporal.

I remember Paul saying, "I have learned to be content in all circumstances." Jesus said in the garden, "...yet not my will but yours be done." During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says "Blessed are you" or "Happy will you be"'re persecuted, insulted, etc.

I think content is a better word. Too often we define happiness with being giddy. And Christ never promises the perfect life until complete restoration comes. Having joy (knowing that all things are temporal) is much more than smiling 24/7 and living with a laissez-faire life.

I appreciated Scot's post and yours as well. Just some thoughts today. I apologize for the length.

Anonymous said...

i just came from mikes the crow flies.
he has a theological snack there to chew on today.

as i was reading your post, i was thinking that contentment in God's will is probably better than the happiness of the world.

i scanned scot's post as well.
people can be very good and very nice and still very lost. one can be just as lost in happiness as they can be lost in any other emotion.

sojourner said...

Good points here!

Ted M. Gossard said...

No apology needed at all! Yes, I too prefer "content" over "happy" and certainly one can be blessed but unhappy over something in life.


Ted M. Gossard said...

All good points! Thanks.

Yes, I'm slow at getting around to blogs. I want to get an e-book since we have wireless here, though Tiffany and her laptop is gone. That would help me get on the Internet more, as I hate to be down here so long, away from Deb, and in this dark (yet nice) dungeon.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks for visiting, and for your comment, Sojourner.