Blaise Pacal, the 15th Century French mathematician and Christian philosopher, wrote:
All men seek happiness, this is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.
More recently, Tim Chester has written:
Everyone is trying to find salvation. They might not ask, ‘What must I do to be saved?’ But everyone has some sense of what it is that would make them fulfilled, satisfied, and accepted.
Bottom line: Everyone is seeking happiness. That which we long for and that which we will sacrifice all that we are for is happiness. The problem that we have is that we look for happiness in all the wrong places and in all the wrong things.
C.S. Lewis writes:
What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could “be like gods”–could set up on their own as if they had created themselves–be their own masters–invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside of God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history–money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery–the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.
The reason why it can never succeed is this. God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on gasoline, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.
Our pursuit of happiness therefore, is one that is holy in nature as it is found in God. To live for the glory of God and to live holy lives brings infinite delight. We were created for His glory and no true happiness can be found apart from why we were created.
But as C.S. Lewis points out, we have been duped into believing that we can attain happiness on our own apart from God. In fact, the world, in both subtle and not so subtle ways, continues to tell us that God is a cosmic kill joy. The world says that to really live you must loose yourself from all religious shackles. There is no way one can be happy while being obediently tied to God.
The Psalmist, however, writes that in God’s presence there is fullness of joy; at [his] right hand are pleasures forevermore (Ps. 16:11). Paul shares with the church in Philippi that there is nothing that compares to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ. In fact, Paul considered all things rubbish compared to knowing Christ (Phil. 3:8). And Jesus tells us that for one to really have life and to have it to the fullest, he/she must come to Him (Jn. 10:10).
We as believers must remind ourselves of this glorious truth that joy is found in Christ alone. And we must communicate it to the world around us as well. We are many times quick to mention the cost of following Christ, and that we should, but we must not forget what we receive.
Jesus told us that the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it (Mt. 13:44-46).
The truth of what Jesus tells us about the Kingdom, which is Himself, is that it is invaluable treasure. What one loses or gives up because of it is of no concern. The greatness of the Kingdom outshines anything in comparison.
So, let’s pursue happiness, but as Lewis writes once again, let’s not be too easily pleased, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.