Friday, June 08, 2007

Jesus Didn't Come to Make You Happy

This is where that Debbie Downer sad "wah wah" sound effect comes in. :-)

No, but seriously. Taking off from that choice quote on discipleship from the Mike Ayers message I highlighted yesterday -- "To be a follower of Jesus, you must renounce comfort as the ultimate value of your life" -- I think it's very important to note the place we tend to go off the rails most when trying to find God's will and to follow Jesus. We have this notion that difficulty or trial or problems are somehow indications of being outside of God's will, conveniently forgetting that Jesus himself promised us trouble, that Paul himself called suffering a privilege, and that the entire testimony of Scripture speaks to difficulty as the very refining process through which our faith is matured and our characters are made most like Christ's.

There's nothing wrong with seeking safety and ease, except when we do so at the expense of faith, and therefore at the expense of holiness. Jesus did not come to enhance our lives, to somehow give us the American dream of "life, love, and the pursuit of happiness." He came to give us life, because we were dead. He came to give us the gift of God's grace and love, and many times the experience of grace and love finds us smack dab in the ups and downs of a life requiring patience, faith, endurance, and hope.

The fruit of the Spirit are not comfort, happiness, convenience . . . The fruit of the Christian life is not meant to be circumstantial and emotional. They are deeper, faith-rich qualities born of adversity.

Jesus did not come to make you happy. He came to make you holy. And there is a joy in that process we can find that is much deeper, much greater, much better than the happiness we are far too easily pleased with.


At 6:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jesus came to give us life not make us more moral people. But if you follow him and his teachings you WILL have a happier life and I DO believe that is what he intended.

At 6:39 AM, Anonymous Jared said...

Anonymous, in my last paragraph I have consciously contrasted "happiness" and "joy." I believe being happy, which is great if it can be managed, is an emotion based on circumstances. I think joy is a quality or character trait that is based on our status in Jesus.

I do hope people will always be happy. Realistically, however, I know that there are many people, Christians included, who trust Jesus and love Jesus but who are not happy, and I wouldn't suggest knowing Jesus makes you happy because that would imply to them that if they are sad, grieving, troubled, depressed, or whatever, it is because they are not close to Jesus.

If following Jesus and his teachings guarantees a "happy life," I wonder how you'd explain this to Christians who are quadriplegics or who are suffering lifelong pain or abuse or who struggle with depression or who are in cultures where they live under threat of death for their beliefs.
I do not see those as "happy lives." But I do know those people can and have found joy in their trials.
I believe one of the fruits of the Spirit is joy.

"Follow me and you will be happier" -- I just don't see that in Scripture. In fact, I see Jesus promising trouble.

But perhaps we are defining "happy" differently.

-- Jared


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