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Our Goal in Life is Really, Truly to be Happy

Barna’s people find such a statement depressing:

While focusing on career data and a shifting workforce, Barna’s vocation project found something troubling in the church, Christians are pursuing happiness instead of Christ.

“It’s not a sustaining framework to just chase after happiness, that’s so circumstantial,” said Dr. Stephanie Shackelford, author of You on Purpose.

“I think what is interesting is practicing Christians are even more likely to chase after happiness [than non-Christians] as their primary aim.”

I find it disturbing that many Christians are offended by the idea that people want to be happy. These people make it an “either/or” proposition: you pursue Jesus Christ or you pursue happiness. But the great Bossuet, living in a century of war, disease and famine, knew that this is a false dichotomy:

Man’s chief aim in life is to be happy. Our Lord Jesus Christ came into this world in order to give us the means of attaining this happiness. To find happiness where it should be found is the source of all good, and the source of all evil is to find it where it should not be found. Let us say then, “I wish to be happy.” Let us also see the goal where happiness is found, and the means to attain it.

Bossuet, Meditations on the Gospel

Our true happiness is to be found in Jesus Christ. Churches and “traditions” that emphasise that we can be happy when we find Jesus Christ, and whose church life is organised to make that fulfilment tangible, will do better in meeting people’s needs. As I look around, the only churches really oriented to make that a reality are those in modern Pentecost. As long as that is the case, they will continue to grow.


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