God wants me to be happy… right?
** This is part 5 of my series on Christian cliches. They’re meant for good but end up doing more harm in the long run**
This just sounds so good, doesn’t it? Who doesn’t want to be happy. I want to be happy! If we are not careful there is a great deal of danger in this belief. It is subtle, but seductive. When we believe that God’s purpose for us is that we be happy we end up having God serve us rather than us serving God. We quickly jump on God if I am not happy, because God has failed to do what he “promised”. If we are becoming what God desires of us then the ultimate goal of our lives with God is not that we are happy, but that God is worshiped and His will is accomplished in and through us.
What I don’t want you to hear is that God wants us to be miserable or doesn’t care about our happiness at all. I am not saying that at all. God the Father delights in us and in our happiness, but our happiness is not the goal. Sometimes, in order to accomplish what needs to happen in our lives we need to be kept from happiness (let that one sink in a little).
One of God’s purpose is to form a Christlike character in each one of us, and when sin creeps in He knows it will derail us from developing that Christlike Character. Our goal as Jesus’ followers is not happiness, it is holiness and if we are not careful our desire for happiness, our desire to be comfortable, our desire that nothing bad happen will interfere and subvert with God’s desire to build His holy character in us.
Additionally, happiness is a temporary emotional state based on circumstances. When things are good, we are happy and when things are bad, we are not happy. Don’t believe me, just watch Facebook status updates or check you Tweets. One minute the person is having a good day and they are happy, the next someone has said something to them and they are not happy. Then they are happy again. The emotional cycle never ends. When times are good Be Happy! Enjoy it. Party like it’s 199…um…2999 (darn you PRINCE!). Christians should know how to have a good time, how to rejoice in the good times. We should be some of the best people at knowing how to celebrate the good times. We need better Christian parties but that’s for a different post.
God isn’t in the business of making us happy, He is looking to make us holy, to develop Christlikeness in us, to impart true joy, to bless us! It would be a lie to say that if we begin following God that everything is going to go well for us. All our sicknesses will be healed. We will have more than enough money. We will be happy. We will never struggle. In many ways, I wish I could say that, but it just isn’t true. God is doing something bigger in us than making us happy. He’s bringing Himself glory and subsequently joy to us.
**Over the next few weeks I would love to address other Christian cliches, if there are some that you’ve wondered about please let me know in the comments below and I will try to address them in the upcoming weeks.**