If you listened to many secular voices, there is no happiness to be found in faith. Faith in God becomes one more religious system that is archaic, oppressive, and delusional. It’s an old way of thinking that doesn’t work any more. This is the classic Marxist idea that religion is an opiate for the masses; that man conjured God in their minds to cope with the suffering of life. This secularistic thinking is prevalent in our culture today and has brought a brand new set of challenges for the church to reach our current generation. But how does the way of Christ disprove these secularists? The answer is not the way they would expect.
To the modern world stepped in secularism, life is a hedonistic pursuit of all the pleasure one can get. What resonates with nonbelievers is pragmatic answers to find their own pleasures. Today more than ever we see so much producer content on how to get ahead, how to manage time better, how to invest better, how to become financially independent before 35, etc. All of these experience great success because they tap into what people are most passionate about, themselves. Christians are not immune to the need of wisdom or a desire to get ahead. What’s contrasting is the core philosophy at the root of the human heart that divides two very different worldviews. The nonbeliever views the knowledge as a tool to pursue the glory of self whereas the Christian should use the same knowledge to glorify God. This marked difference can often make the precepts of the gospel life in Christ seem backward or paradoxical to the world. Let me try to make it more plain.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is all about self denial, not self first. Its about learning a new way of putting God first and then others. The Bible uses phrases to describe this way of life like dying to self daily and considering others more important than yourself. Apart from faith this doesn’t seem to make sense. The Bible says it’s about giving is better than receiving and that the ultimate goal of every life ought to be glorifying God and not self. But to the natural mind me receiving is better. To the unbelieving person the ways of Christ sound ludicrous. The person who does not know who Jesus truly is believes that anything that seemingly prevents them from their own happiness is detrimental to them. But what if they are wrong. What if the way up is down? What if the way to truly experience happiness comes through a relationship with Jesus Christ and through obedience to the new ways of His kingdom? What if some pleasures are self-destructive? What if, as the Bible teaches, giving is more beneficial to our soul than receiving? What if service is more fulfilling in our lives than being served? What if living for God is truly more satisfying than living for self? The Bible states that these are in fact true. The way of following Christ seems like a paradox, it seems backwards to the world, but it is the very secret to finding the greatest pleasures possible in this life and the next! The world may scoff. Jesus taught us that the world would hate such thinking because they hated Him. But the Christian experience can testify that these paradoxes (compared to the ways of the world) have proven true in their own lives. Psychology and sociology corroborate these principles with data showing that generous, service-oriented, and grateful people have proven statistically to be more content in life than those who are pursuing self-indulgent lifestyles. Look for yourselves.
In the end, my point is simple. The world dismisses Christians because it seems to them that denying yourself is ridiculous because self pleasure is the greatest good. The truth is that because of sin some pleasures are very bad for you and will lead to eternal unhappiness apart from the saving grace from God. The way up is down. True happiness comes from God. The Bible states this over and over.
1 Peter 5:5b–6 (NKJV) 5… be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” 6Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,
Kingdom happiness is about discovering all that is available in Jesus Christ and His Way. How can Jesus be celebrated as a moral hero but so many fail to see He is the Son of God and the Source of all that is good and leads to genuine happiness? (James 1:17)