I believe the vast majority of unhappiness and disillusionment among people, even of people of great faith, can usually be traced to one common yet thoroughly un-interrogated assumption—happiness comes from getting what we want. While such logic seems sounds utterly contradictory to Christian faith, for example, because it leads us to think that Jesus is good for saving our souls but his blessings are needed for our happiness. In so doing, we separate the “blessings of Christ” from the “person of Christ.”
Most of us would agree that God can change our hearts so that “what we want” is no longer carnal but pure; however, we often still live as though our happiness depends on receiving something we have yet to possess.
Though God does bring about a reorientation of our hearts in regard to pleasure, such attainment is not the key to our happiness.
Therefore our relationship with joy is not one of receiving but giving. Jesus plainly told us that an abundant life is the product of a surrendered life . In the economy of God, the one who gives is the one who’s blessed, (Acts 20:35).
There is a stifling bondage that comes from living for pleasure, regardless how spiritually we may couch it. Our problem is not a lack of pleasure but exposure to God’s love. The more we encounter God’s love the more we understand it as an invitation to give ourselves away. Why? Because there’s an unspeakably fulfilling reality we discover when we encounter God’s love—it frees us from ourselves by evoking a deep compulsion to give our lives back to him and others.
God’s love has an uncanny way of nurturing a fierce urge to be more than we are by living in a way that’s pleasing to him.
We truly serve ourselves best when the cry of our heart steadfastly remains, “Change me, change me, change me.” Herein we find that such change is the key to unveiling the mystery of true and genuine happiness, found only in God.
Ultimately, we are left with two choices of commitment. Are we committed to God or are we committed to pleasure? We must get this right because pleasure is never enough to satisfy our souls, rather it is through surrender that we finally discover the life God has already given us. Next week I introduce the third posture of holy desperation—surrender.
Adapted article by David Trementozzi
Author: David Trementozzi
David Trementozzi is married to his wife, Emily and they have three children—Judah, Kaleb, and Halle. David likes to write on topics related to Christian faith and their contemporary relevance. He has a B.A. in Psychology (Messiah College), Masters of Divinity, and Ph.D in Theology (Regent University). David is currently a professor of Theology at Continental Theological Seminary in Brussels, Belgium. View all posts by David Trementozzi