Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Dark Lie of "Happiness" (Part 2)

In part one of this post, I talked about how the pursuit of stuff doesn't bring about happiness, rather, it suppresses it. In this post, I'd like to talk about another influence that the cultural mentality of "more, more, more" affects and that is our time. As we pursue more stuff, it inevitably will affect how we spend our time, as we will spend more of it working hard to acquire more stuff.

Remember those sociology studies on happiness? Do you know what always ranks in the top as far what makes a society truly happy? Community and relationships. It is no wonder then that when we devote our time to the pursuit of stuff, rather than the pursuit of people, our happiness is negatively affected. The most affluent societies are also the busiest and the unhappiest. Yet, looking at many of the poorer nations, sociology studies find that when the pursuit of stuff is not an option, the most important thing in those societies becomes community and relationships - because that is all they have! They value relationships and they are happier for it.

I don't think I need to convince anyone reading this that those of us in the western world are far too busy. We have bought into the cultural lies that we have to work more, do more, spend more and be more in order to be happy. Living this way however, leaves only remnants of life available, able or willing to be used to glorify God.

We are too busy with our more, more, more lives to have time to live the gospel. We are going a million miles a minute with strict schedules to keep and don't have time to stop and go the extra mile with someone or to visit people in their pain and distress. When the Church gets caught up in this more, more, more way of life, our witness suffers terribly - but sadly, we're too busy to notice.

We mustn't take a passive approach on the way culture influences this part of our lives. We have to intentionally counteract it.

"If we let culture just happen to us, we'll end up exhausted, addicted and broke, with a house full of junk and no time." - Mary Pipher

But if Christians began living differently in the area of time and finances - according to all those sociology studies (and ::ahem:: the Bible) - not only would we be less stressed and have more time to serve others, we would be happier! What an irresistible witness for Christ that would be! Authentically happy Christians! People would see our happiness and contentment and want to experience it for themselves. What a marvelous open door for the gospel to be shared.

Some of us (me!) might not be real gifted in the area of evangelism. We might have a hard time finding words that can sway people to believing in Christ. If so, then we should let our lives and our level of happiness be a witness for us.

"Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven" - Matthew 5:16

Let us allow the way we spend our time and money be radically different than what the world says is normal. This life-witness could very likely speak louder to the culture around you then a stirring sermon.

"Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." - Ephesians 5:15-16

Q4U-  How have you, or how could you start, living in a way that brings about authentic happiness as a witness to those around you?

Post inspired by the Focus on the Family broadcast, Living with the End in Mind part 2, aired July 13, 2010. Listen to this broadcast here


  1. Freeing oneself from the gravity of materialism has such a liberating effect. Not that I've mastered the practice, but I'm at least moving slowly in that direction. Having lived on this Earth over 5 decades, I've seen both sides - the pursuit of stuff and the pursuit of a more responsible approach to stewarding the resources God has entrusted to me. A word to the wise among those younger than me - begin NOW pursuing stewardship. Moving toward financial freedom and away from material slavery has a very positive effect on your spirit and, subsequently, your relationships. You don't want to get to middle age having sacrificed the stuff of real life to gain stuff that will burn in the end.

  2. Let me just first start off by saying how much your blogs have encouraged, inspired, and challenged me. (I think I may have already told you that.) God is using a number of things (your blog is one of them) to really open my eyes to His heart and the heart of His Word that I seem to have missed my entire life, but was there all along. I think I just skipped over them (the billions of passages in God's Word that deal with giving and sacrifice and justice) because they were just too difficult and uncomfortable to think about.

    I have been convicted lately about my lack of love for people. I enjoy being alone. I love my alone time. I love my free time and I don't want to use it to reach out. God is slowly, but surely developing within me a love and compassion for people. For me I have to act first and then the feelings of love come.

    I am praying that I will be paying attention to the needs of those around me and not saying no. Whether that be welcoming our 5-year old neighbor into my house and sharing my food with her, meeting with younger girls for discipleship when I'd rather be napping or sewing or reading, dropping by my neighbor's house with cookies and ask her how she's been doing (she's been having marital problems lately). Instead of focusing on stuff (what clothes I want, how I want to decorate my house, etc.), I want to focus on PEOPLE.


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