The Pursuit of Happiness

The Pursuit of Happiness

We all want to be happy right? In fact happiness is seen as a human right, enshrined by the US constitution and the UN. But what if happiness isn't all it's cracked up to be? What if we got our idea of happiness completely wrong?

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Hannah Lamont

Hannah Lamont

Hannah is our resident ginger. She is on our leadership team here at The Bridge and in the daytime works for the Civil Service. Enough said! She speaks chinese and is involved with international ministry here in Britain. Hannah is not someone to mess with as she says it how it is. Take a look at what she writes as it holds great wisdom.

Hannah enjoys walking her dog, Charlie.

Streams

The Big Story #6: God's Church

The Big Story #6: God's Church

Rounding off our big Bible overview we look to the conclusion of the story and what we need to do to get there. God has chosen us to play a part in it, but how? What does it mean to be God's church?

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The Big Story #5: God's Son

The Big Story #5: God's Son

It all points to Him, everything that had come before, the promises, the prophecies, the people. Here we reach the climax of God's story in a person, God's son, Jesus Christ. We don't understand him until we see how he fits into what's come before.

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The Big Story #3: God's Kingdom

The Big Story #3: God's Kingdom

Look around the world and we see kings, presidents, leaders who are very much flawed. Israel had a king - God, but they wanted a human king. We look at how that worked out for God's people.

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The Big Story #2: God's People

The Big Story #2: God's People

God's story is both cosmic in scope and intimate in care, we see that as he chose to fulfil his purposes in a family. But why did God choose Abraham and the people of Israel to be the ones who would be a blessing to the whole world?

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The Pursuit of Happiness

Happiness is universally valued as a measure of quality of life.

In 1776 Thomas Jefferson established the universal right to ‘the pursuit of happiness’. The UN values it highly enough to declare happiness a universal goal. We strive for personal happiness and self-fulfillment, whether that be through pursuing the big things in life; wealth, status, good relationships, a stable family, or through the little things; a flourishing garden, a good book, a sunny afternoon.

However, while granting us the emotive state of happiness, this act of self-fulfillment is, as it says, an entirely selfish act. Our own happiness (whether that be based on someone else’s happiness or not) becomes the centre of our lives. We become our own gods. We constantly seek the next thing that will make us happy. We believe that we have a right to happiness. As with all rights we expect to walk through life holding our rights out in front of us as a key to unlock doors.

It is therefore no surprise that when this right to happiness eludes us we feel that the world has let us down. We feel that life has treated us unfairly and that our right to happiness has been violated. The happiness we seek becomes circumstantial and a never-ending chase for fulfilment. We isolate ourselves. The very act of pursuing happiness can take a nasty turn down the road of loneliness and to a perpetual state of escaping unhappiness.

This morbid cycle of emotions is not as it should be. Happiness as it has become is not happiness as it was intended to be. We have made happiness the emotion of our relationship with our circumstances. Through this fragile and temporal equation we expect to be fulfilled.

In the beginning happiness was the result of being in an unbroken, blessed relationship with our creator, God the Father. It is in that relationship that we were made to seek happiness through different kinds of relationships, with people, with things. Whereas that relationship had been broken, Jesus brings us back into that relationship with God. He restores us through His Holy Spirit to true happiness. This true happiness is not circumstantial.

It does not mean life becomes easy and therefore we can be happy. In fact Jesus promises that as his followers we will be rejected, we will suffer, we will be despised - all things that we might imagine a failure in our pursuit of happiness. The Bible asks us to give up our rights to all those things that would make us ‘happy’ and lay them down. True happiness does not mean that we will be in a constant state of elation. In fact we will understand pain and hurt in a far richer way.

C.S Lewis famously said:

“I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”

This happiness is counter cultural to our reference point for happiness. Our reference point to happiness is no longer that of our constantly changing circumstances, it is not an emotional state of fulfillment. Our reference point to happiness becomes a relationship with an unchanging, unfailing God.

True happiness does not rely on an elated reaction to circumstances or an emotional state of gladness. True happiness is being utterly content and utterly obedient in relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

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