A number of years ago I hit a wall. My mind began to fracture and my body began to break down. I hit a critical point in my life that forced me to explore the way I was living. I won’t be going into specific contributing factors in my situation, rather I want to explore 6 principles that I have applied in my journey towards living a life I enjoy. I hope this series encourages you to consider how you are living your life and whether it is sustainable in producing long-term joy.
Let me explain the two big ideas behind this series.
1. God wants you to be happy!
I would fall into a Christian worldview category known as Christian hedonism. What the heck does that mean? Hedonism is the belief that pleasure, joy and satisfaction is the good and proper goal of human life. It’s the pursuit of pleasure. Christian hedonism, therefore, has a specific clarification of what it is that brings the human soul most pleasure. Let me unpack my understanding of God and joy.
It is my conviction that God created life. He did so with a purpose. One that is eternal and bigger than we could ever imagine or understand. This purpose includes, but is not limited to, his own glory. God’s purpose also includes our joy. Yes, I believe God wants you to be happy! God’s glory and our joy are not dichotomous. Rather they go hand in hand. God’s glory does not contradict our joy. God’s glory is our joy because we were made by God, for God. The human soul was made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26) in order to experience and relate with God. Additionally, the one who created us created us in such a way that our ultimate satisfaction would be him. While we may be immanent; we were made for the transcendent. While we may be created beings; we were made for the creator God. Likewise, in the words of John Piper, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him…Not only is God the supreme source of satisfaction for the human soul, but God himself is glorified by our being satisfied in him.” Therefore Christian hedonism is the conviction that God’s ultimate goal of his own glory and our deepest human desire for deep lasting joy are intrinsically linked. Some would go even so far as to say they are one and the same thing.
For some, this may come as a surprise to you, particularly if you are not a Christian. Maybe you always thought Christianity was all about denying oneself of joy, living a spiritually disciplined life and making sure you keep God happy. To consider God as one who cares about your joy might even be good news for you. It has been for me.
2. God knows what will make you happy!
Learning that God’s glory and our joy are not at odds is freeing. It can reshape our entire worldview and approach to how we live out our human experience. Again, this is true for me. In the Christian hedonist view, the Christian life should be one of a pursuit of joy, ultimate joy. We are free to pursue happiness. This is not only a good thing but even a God thing. He designed us this way, with these desires. The exhortation needed therefore is to ask ‘what will make us truly happy?’. This is where the Christian worldview would claim that not only does God want us to be happy, but he also knows what will make us happy. As the master craftsmen, God has designed us in such a way that ultimate joy can only be experienced in Him and living according to His good design. In addition to this, sin has distorted our desires to seek shallow, temporal and short-term joy that ultimately leaves us dissatisfied, unfulfilled only to seek more of the same.
God wants you to be happy and he knows how you can experience true joy. Over the next 6 posts, we will explore how we can live according to his good design and begin living a life we enjoy!
1. Review – Where am I?
2. Rethink – Who am I?
3. Re-calibrate – What really matters?
4. Reduce – What’s really necessary?
5. Rest – Who’s am I?
6. Refuel – What energises me?
Tag along and let me know your thoughts as you go!