Yeah …… God never said that
We need to be really careful. It is so easy to misquote scripture, or pass “wisdom” along as though it came directly from the ink and paper of the Bible. It is so easy … and SO dangerous. Dangerous in the sense that we can ourselves believe, or cause other people to believe “truths” that might sound and seem right but have no basis in God’s truth. There are teachings and doctrines out there which make us feel good and have hope, yet are 180 degrees, going in the absolute opposite direction from what God actually says. This week we begin a new series titled, “God Never Said That.” We’ll look at three popular misconceptions or misquotes of biblical truths and set them straight with chapter and verse from the source of all truth — the very Word of God.
God wants you to be happy … right?!
Sounds and seems right … right? We’re a Christian nation, founded on biblical truths, right? Isn’t happiness’ pursuit one of our inalienable rights?! Actually, it’s pretty alien to the truth. So, if God really did want us to be happy, how would you say He’s doing with that in your life? Is happiness the rule or the exception? Unfortunately, for many it’s absolutely an exception. And if happiness was God’s ultimate goal and purpose for our lives, it would be right to assume He’s not nearly the all-powerful God he claims to be. So what happens to us when we see happiness as our ultimate goal and purpose and we’re unhappy?
- we make irrational choices
- our sense of right and wrong becomes distorted
- God’s WILL makes no sense
It is so prevalent in our culture, marriages fail because either the husband or wife falls “in love” with someone else. Where does that come from? Why is it happening so often? In truth, it comes from a deep sense of unhappiness. And when we are unhappy and “happy” is our goal and purpose, we choose irrationally and we lose our rooted sense of right and wrong. Happiness is reduced to a shallow emotion and we chase what we cannot catch. God’s true purpose for our lives (if it’s with that current spouse) makes no sense. He can’t want me to be unhappy. He can’t want my children to be exposed to the anger and bitterness between us. But see … this happiness assumption (and assertion) just isn’t rooted in truth. You cannot find a chapter and verse for it.
So what does God want?
The truth is, happiness is not God’s desire for you. It is not His purpose for your life. You already know this … we cannot live in a perpetual state of happiness. The harder and harder we chase after it, the farther and farther away it seems to get. So if it’s not happiness, what does God want? Well, I believe, and more importantly scripture says, God wants two primary things for you.
- God wants you to live forever
Okay, I don’t know about you, but even on the surface that sounds way better than being happy. And before we go any further, here’s the scripture that backs that up…
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
That second verse contains the very words of Jesus while he was walking this earth as one of us. Can you also hear that verse saying, “Anyone who pursues their own happiness in this life will come up empty-handed. It might be found for the moment, but it will be lost and that cycle will continue. However, anyone who pursues me will find and have me forever.” Do these verses (at least) begin to suggest this world and our happiness in it, are not the goal.
So it’s all about us, then?
God wants you to live forever, for sure, but that’s not where His purpose ends. God wants this for everyone, and He wants you involved in reaching out to introduce others to this truth as well.
Imagine yourself in a room full of people. All of a sudden a fire alarm goes off, and you begin to smell and see smoke pouring into the room. A person bursts through the door to the room and begins yelling for everyone to get out. As the room fills with smoke, you fall to your knees and begin crawling to the door as fast as you can. As you exit the room and discover the way to safety, you notice people who are crushed under the weight of others trying to escape. You notice people who, if left alone, will not make it to safety. Does it makes sense that God’s instruction to you would be to leave those people and save yourself. I’m not saying it might not be your instinct in that moment, but does that seem right? No … it doesn’t to me either. And I can guarantee you won’t find ink and paper in the Bible that says it.
Contrary to the worldly wisdom of happiness, God includes suffering as part of his plan and purpose for your life. The Apostle Paul says this…
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
It may not seem and sound right to you, but talk to any Christian who has been through genuine suffering. I can assure you they won’t speak glowingly of the experience, but I am certain they will confirm that they could not truly know God without it. It’s a strange, yet absolute truth that suffering is an irreplaceable part of God’s plan and purpose for our lives. Among so many other things, suffering reminds us that it is all about God — not about us, all about Him.
So I guess that’s it, then
If you want to think of it that way .. yes, that’s it. God absolutely delights in your happiness; He loves it when you experience true joy. But it is not his ultimate plan and purpose for you, or for the world. His plan and purpose will make no sense to you if happiness in this life is your’s. Following God will make absolutely no sense unless you truly understand what He wants for your life. God wants you to live forever and He wants you grab as many people you can on your way.