4th December 2016

The Pursuit Of Happiness 

“Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”
1 Timothy 6:6 (NKJV)

Americans are guaranteed “the pursuit of happiness” by their constitution as an ‘inalienable right.’ What does it mean? Look around at advertisements and media. We’re bombarded with products and trinkets which are guaranteed to make us happy. But countless studies have shown that simply “consuming” things and experiences won’t bring lasting happiness. So what gives?

Recently Star Wars creator George Lucas attempted to wrestle with this very question. He explains that happiness is really made up of two different experiences: joy and pleasure. He defined pleasure as fleeting, self-centred and focused solely on what a person can consume. He went on that pleasure alone was like a drug. We always need a higher dose to achieve the same level of “happiness.”

But joy is different. Lucas says: “Joy is compassion. Joy is giving oneself to someone else or something else… it’s much more powerful than pleasure.… And if you pursue joy, you will find everlasting happiness.”

In general terms, Lucas isn’t far from the Kingdom, to echo Jesus. Identifying the serious limits and liabilities of pursuing pleasure is a message our society needs to hear. Joy is far more than pleasure can deliver. But we need more than that. Notice, Lucas doesn’t give any clues as to the nature of a self-giving that would lead to joy. I think I might be able to pick up where he left off. You see, biblical revelation, providentially, gives us a fuller picture. Jesus himself tells us to seek first the kingdom of God, the kingdom over which he is king (Matthew 6:33). He directs us to give ourselves to him and to his particular kind of self-giving. The rest of the New Testament fills out many of the details of what this looks like in real life.

To be sure, those seeking first the kingdom are not called to seek fulfilment by consuming things of this earth, nor by trying to find our identity or happiness in the latest car or video game. Instead, Christ has called us to a better, fuller and richer life—a life under the gracious management of the Lord Jesus Christ, which leads to faith, hope and love, and a life under the direction of his Word and Spirit, which leads to joy, peace and purpose in him. We have been set free from dependence on the things of this world in order to love and serve him and one another in gladness and singleness of heart. Let’s exercise our God-given right to pursue happiness, by remembering that in Christ our lives are bound up with him. It is only through pursuing him that we will find joy everlasting.

Holy Father, our human proclivities cling very close to us. Help us to see life and our future through your eyes, so that we can minimise the amassing of ‘things’, the excitement of ever experiencing the new, the security of possession; rather to rely more on you and your ‘better way’ for us based on faith and belief. We pray for this in Jesus’ name.

Study by Joseph Tkach


About the Author: joeandtammy
Joseph Tkach is the President of Grace Communion International (the Denominational name of The Worldwide Church of God UK), and resides in California, USA.

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