Never has our world experienced so many advances in all areas of life as we know it, yet been so miserable. Man has a hunger for life built into his very being. We want to live, and live fully, not merely exist. Unfortunately, it is depression, unhappiness, confusion, frustration, unfulfilled hopes and dreams, dissatisfaction, emptiness, and hopeless misery, which describes humanity the world over. The framers of the American Constitution had the right idea in mind when they guaranteed the citizens the right to the “pursuit of happiness.” Unfortunately, they could not guarantee anyone would ever reach it. They could only guarantee one’s right to “pursue” it. Most are pursuing happiness, but in all the wrong places!—and shockingly to some they are not finding it.
With all of our ever-expanding scientific knowledge, we have yet to realize the happiness as a society we predicted would accompany it. Nor have any of our laborsaving devices, designed with the intent to allow people more leisure time to “enjoy family, friends, and themselves” provided any lasting happiness. Instead, drug addiction, despair, suicide, alcoholism, self-pity, and other forms of escapism, and general discontent with life itself, are everywhere. We also unfortunately find our educators have failed to help people find the abundant life we all desire and continue to pursue. So have scientists. Our religious communities have not fared any better failing miserably in teaching people about real abundant living from the only perspective that matters the viewpoint of God.
Sadly millions of people, many Christians view Christianity as a series of “Thou shalt not’s,” rather than the path to enjoying a wonderful, happy life. These same millions often think of sin as the fun that will end if they obey God. They think accepting Jesus also means accepting a constrained life. So many believe Christianity is something to endure instead of enjoy. Why do so many of us still not understand that the radiant, abundant life can be ours if only we would follow God’s formula to achieve it?
Many of our religions have taught and continue to teach people to feel guilty if they enjoy themselves, if they are happy! So many believe God wants them to suppress joy and happiness and that this is the posture of a true follower, a real believer. Furthermore, it is believed to be an expectation of God Himself.
If we were to all be honest with ourselves, we may find we too at one time or another have seen Christianity this way. Come on, the thought never crossed your mind that Christianity primarily means an end to fun, pleasure, excitement, thrills and an interesting life? Maybe you just thought church to be boring, seeing most church services as solemn, sober, unemotional and devoid of any real meaning—and happiness. These are a few reason, some people choose to attend emotional charged churches, seeking a feeling, albeit temporary, they equate this feeling with happiness in order to fill a terrible void, an emptiness on the inside. The bottom line is few people before surrendering to Christ ever equate Christianity with enjoying a true zest for life.
Shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus taught His disciples many vital principles, saying, “These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” – John 15:11. Knowing the disciples would grieve at His death, He added, “Your sorrow shall be turned into joy… and your joy no man takes from you” John 16:20, 22. This is a powerful promise. Christians are to experience real joy and happiness in this life—if they are pleasing and obeying God. If God’s Spirit is present within you, you can experience a joy and peace no one can take from you—even when persecuted. The Bible states, “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” – II Tim. 3:12. You will be persecuted for your beliefs, but this need not upset you and cause unhappiness.
The disciples knew His words held power and promise…and that He was offering something they desperately craved. Not just a home in heaven after this life was over, but a full, rich, abundant life that begins here and now. Someone once said, “I have never known a lost person who did not know something was missing in their life…something they deeply longed for.” That something is life… and only Jesus has the authority to give it, and give it with great joy and abundance.
John 14:6 -“I am the way, the truth and the life, and no man comes to the Father but by Me.”