Monday, July 30, 2007

Secret to Happiness

I'm not merely content to survive in this life... I want to thrive. I want to be fulfilled. I want to be happy. Can anyone relate to that? Maybe that's why the following passage of Scripture caught my eye this week.

From 1 John 1, "We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write so that our joy may be made complete.”

Every human being on the planet is instinctively driven toward joy and away from pain. Equally real is the truth that every human struggles under the soul-breaking weight of continued disappointment and unfulfilled hope in that pursuit. The result is a massive distortion of our perceptions and pursuits in the world. Instead of joy, we settle for lesser pain. Instead of the ache of disappointment, we settle for mind-numbing depression or the distraction of busyness and hedonism. In that sense, the crack addict and the millionaire are the same… working to dull the nagging reality that life is hopeless at its core.

Some religions work to shame and change humanity’s hard-wired desires. Not much success there… like that old joke about the farmer who was gradually training his horse to live without food, when suddenly the horse died. Yeah... some things (like the need for food) can't be unlearned.

Other systems embrace and even work to perfect the deadening of feeling and desire. At some point, the framers of Buddhism felt the pain of unfulfilled desire and decided that killing desire and moving toward impersonal nothingness was the best solution to the human dilemma. By the way, suicide achieves the same goal in much less time. Brutal isn’t it?

The Bible is familiar with this issue of desire and disappointment; but it points in a radically unique direction in response. Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” God created humanity with desires that were intended to be fulfilled. Not the shallow desires of money, status, and hedonism, but the deeper desires of our heart that drive those surface wants.

Which leads us back to John’s words in 1 John 1, “These things we write so that our joy may be made complete.” John acknowledges that we long for joy. We need it. And he says it’s really possible. Even more stunning is the path he names for the fulfillment of our desires, “fellowship with us … with the Father … with His Son …” John says that the secret to satisfying our unrelenting desires lies in unified community with God and each other.

Being together in loving, truth-based, dependable family… That’s what makes us happy. Our need to be loved, to be honored, to be empowered, to identify, to grow, to win… it’s all wrapped up in this path toward Oneness with God and people. The path Jesus calls, “the kingdom of God.” Some are on the path, some aren’t. Some are in the kingdom, some aren’t. But all can be.

We can all be satisfied. We can all embrace the divine design of our innate desires and find their fulfillment in community with God and his people through Jesus Christ. This is why Christ’s death on the cross and his resurrection isn’t merely a payment for the sin of those who receive him but is more a ministry of “reconciliation". Jesus is reconciling us. Bringing us back to the oneness God created us for. Bringing us back to joy. Just like Jesus said in John’s gospel, “…so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”

Who wouldn't want to know, love and follow a God who created and is so earnestly working to restore us to overwhelming joy - despite our continual efforts to run from Him and His plan of Oneness?.



Bob Carder said...

Can't comment until I read the post. Question: One minute you are heading to Chico land and now somewhere else. Where are you anyway?

Bob Carder said...

I got you mixed up with someone else. I'm losing it. This is an excellent post!

John Lynch said...

No prob, Bob! Press on, bro & thanks for the encouragement.