Why Christians need to stop pursuing happiness today
What makes us happy? Many people may not know the answer right away, which is ironic given that at some level everyone is in a quest to find and pursue happiness.
We all want to be happy. I doubt I will ever meet anyone who truly intends to remain miserable.
But is happiness really something to be pursued? How do most people pursue happiness today?
Sometimes we might think of happiness as an emotion or feeling, and we find things that we believe will bring that feeling or emotion. We pursue relationships, material things, substances, brands, and images, thinking these are the things that will bring us happiness.
Other times we might think of happiness as the removal of all things that are unpleasant. So we try to drown worries, fears, disappointments, and problems through various means.
I think we know where this is all going. Ultimately if you've placed yourself in any of those positions, you would have experienced disappointment. Why? It's because none of those things supposedly meant to bring happiness work.
So does that mean that we are never meant to be happy? No. I believe God's intent is for all to live happy and fulfilled lives. His plan is to prosper us, not harm us, and also give us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).
The problem lies in the things we pursue. We try to purse pleasant things thinking that happiness will come. We try to remove unpleasant things thinking that happiness will increase.
Happiness, however, does not come from anything that is in this world. All the money, fame, success, and material possession will only be temporal. That's why Colossians 3:2 urges us, "Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth."
How do we find happiness? We cannot find it in pursuing happiness on its own. We can only find happiness by pursuing its most prominent, lasting, and abundant source: God Himself. James 1:17 (NLT) tells us, "Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow."
I believe that that includes happiness.
Think of it this way: If you wanted as many apples as possible, would you rather have a basket of apples or an apple tree? Likewise, in our pursuit of happiness we find that it's always better to go to the source. The source of all happiness—all good things and the wonders they bring, both temporal and eternal—come from God.
That's why Jesus urges us in Matthew 6:33 to "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness."
We find happiness most when we go straight to the source. The Bible tells us that in God's presence there is fullness of joy. Consequently, it makes more sense to pursue God more than happiness. When we pursue God, we get an abundant and eternal supply of happiness.