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.