June 7, 2018
Last week I wrote about having my Face Book account hacked by an imposter, and how that unfortunate episode got me thinking about how the world seeks (and too easily succeeds) to undermine who we are in Christ, and steal away our true spiritual identity.
This week I want to start focusing on what we can do about it. And I start by speaking heresy – heresy of a cultural, not theological sort. Here it is.
Value Holiness Over Happiness
“The pursuit of happiness” is enshrined in the Declaration of Independence. Nothing could possibly be more American than this! Of course, our Founders meant happiness in a civic rather than an individual sense, but that intention has long since disappeared from our ethos. We value happiness, personal happiness, over everything.
And happiness is what the world promises. “Buy this and you will be happy.” “Take this and you will feel great.” “Be with that new person and find true love.” “Be you and create your own destiny.” The quest for happiness (and “personal fulfillment” a related idea) reigns supreme, even among Christian people.
I have nothing against happiness or fulfillment. I am glad this nation gives people the freedom to pursue whatever they wish. But the pursuit of happiness in itself is not the Gospel. God is not there to make you or me or any of us happy. Despite the corruption of the Prosperity Gospel and other ideas popular in parts of the Church these days, our individual happiness is not what being a Christian is all about.
God desires holiness from us, and for holiness to be formed in us. Mere happiness is too small a thing, for once holiness begins to take hold in us, it brings with it a divine, indescribable joy the world cannot give. And holiness has everything to do with who we are in Christ. In and through Christ, we are made holy in God’s eye. In and through Christ, we are given an identity, made part of God’s family and set apart for a holy purpose in this world.
If happiness is what our heart is set upon, we become susceptible to spiritual identity theft – even as Christian people. We will buy into and fall prey to the numerous empty promises of happiness out there. Yet happiness is too small a thing. It has become an American idol. God desires something better and deeper and more lasting for us. God desires for us to pursue and become more and more who we are in Christ already, which is holy.
I have a couple other ideas I will finish in next Musings.
See you Sunday!