Sunday, August 5, 2007

Happiness is Next To Godliness?

So the first line of today's Prayer of Confession at FPCE was something about Jesus having given us the key to happiness (but us not taking it or something). My stomach almost turns when I hear a line like that! It is so unscriptural and so contrary to life and experience. Christianity and faith do not exist to provide happiness - Jesus and the apostles said quite the opposite. There's way more talk about poverty, suffering, and persecution than about feeling good.

This reminds me of a poster on the wall in the PYGS lounge that drives me nuts - it's divided in half with one half a sad face that says "life before Jesus" and one side a happy face that says "life after Jesus". Incredibly trite, incredibly wrong. For one, there are plenty of people who don't know Jesus who live pretty happy lives. Sure, they may have that God shaped hole, or whatever you want to call it, deep down, but on the surface they have their great days just like anyone else. (If you're not sure about this, read Ecclesiastes.)
Second, this poster sends the message that if you're not happy, you must not know Jesus, or there must be something wrong with your relationship with him. It is too often our tendency as Christians to spiritualize the ups and downs of our days - I had a bad day today, it must be because I didn't have my quiet time; I'm sick, I must have some sin I haven't repented of. In this view, God is meting out good times or bad times for us based on our spiritual works - an idea which grace is completely opposed to. God's blessing in our lives is not based on our deserving of it, or even our ability/willingness to notice it or thank him for it (thus those who don't know God can still be blessed by him!)