Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Pursuit of Happiness

Jesus was counter-cultural in his day, and he still is in our day. Since what Jesus taught goes against the grain of modern thinking, the culture tends to reject him and his followers. Those followers who take seriously what Jesus taught are ridiculed as hopelessly old-fashioned and out of touch with reality.

Take the concept of happiness. The world says we can achieve happiness through pleasure, accumulation of wealth and material possessions, and by great accomplishments (Ecclesiastes 2:4-11). Jesus taught something quite the opposite, something that doesn’t even make a lot of sense until you have put your faith and trust in him. True happiness comes from what Jesus taught in Matthew 5:3-12 (New Century Version):

Those people who know they have great spiritual needs are happy, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
Those who are sad now are happy, because God will comfort them.
Those who are humble are happy, because the earth will belong to them.
Those who want to do right more than anything else are happy, because God will fully satisfy them.
Those who show mercy to others are happy, because God will show mercy to them.
Those who are pure in their thinking are happy, because they will be with God.
Those who work to bring peace are happy, because God will call them his children.
Those who are treated badly for doing good are happy, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.

People will insult you and hurt you. They will lie and say all kinds of evil things about you because you follow me. But when they do, you will be happy. Rejoice and be glad, because you have a great reward waiting for you in heaven. People did the same evil things to the prophets who lived before you.

Rather than follow what the world tells us regarding happiness, I encourage you to follow what God, through the Apostle Paul, tells us in Romans 12:2:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God — what is good and acceptable and perfect. NRSV

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