Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What Jesus said about Happiness... Pt.1

The next couple of weeks I want to write about one word; happiness

But let me tell you what kind of happiness I am referring to.

True Happiness. Happiness that doesn't depend of things going right for us. I'm not referring to the happiness that comes with winning a game and leaves after losing one.

I mean the real deal.

We all seek it.

Let me rephrase that; we all desperately seek happiness.

And let me tell you something some people won't; Jesus wants you to find it. 

Chances are we've all probably tried many things hoping they would bring us this elusive happiness.

        - relationships (dating, marriage, parenthood,  friendships, etc), success, popularity, music, the  party life, etc.

And sometimes it seemed like we found it. We were happy!

But then it fled. It rolled out. And we were left... well unhappy.

Unless your views of happiness are the same as those Jesus holds. 

Because Jesus weighed in on this age old debate about 2,000 years ago.
Since Jesus wrote this, there have been literally tens of thousands of books about how to be happy.
But Jesus nailed it... because.. well He is Jesus!

So what did Jesus say about happiness? His happiness message begins in Matthew 5:1.

1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.    
He said:   
 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 4 Blessed are those who mourn,
   for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
   for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
   for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
   for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
   for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
   for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

   11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:1-12, NIV)
Now you guys who grew up in the church recognize this passage; its the beatitudes. What does this have to do with happiness?

Let me set up the story for you: 

Jesus and his disciples have just retreated. They did this a lot. They went up on a mountain and Jesus began the greatest sermon of all time. We call this sermon the sermon on the mount... because He is literally teaching on the mountain.. haha I wonder if the Bible scholars who named the sermon on the mount won some kind of literary creativity award.. Probably not. That's beside the point. 

Anyways, here is Jesus beginning his leadership conference with His most devoted followers and the first word out of his mouth was 'makarios". 

Makarios is the word we translate "blessed" most of the time. The reason we usually translate this word blessed is because commentators will say this word means more than just happy by the world's definition. And this is true. Jesus isn't talking about this fleeting happiness that doesn't stick. Jesus is talking about AUTHENTIC HAPPINESS

Jesus is talking about what ALL of us are seeking so desperately! 

The disciples and the people of Jesus day understood this word makarios to mean "the happiness of God."

So Jesus spends the next few minutes opening his greatest recorded sermon with His thoughts on true happiness. 

And they are completely different than what the world was selling... and what the world is selling today. 

So over the next couple of weeks, I am going to do a blog series on these few verses and do my best to unpack what Jesus said about this age old debate of....

What must I do to truly be HAPPY?  
 And to prove the world is right about one aspect of happiness; that a lack of happiness is a problem. 
But to show you that a lack of happiness isn't a friendship problem.

Or an occupation problem.
Or a financial problem.
Or a marriage problem.

A lack of happiness, the kind Jesus speaks about, is a spiritual problem.

Hope God speaks to us as we study these verses together,