I notice that there are many half-happy people in this world, who are very much content with being half-happy. They just seem to be going with the flow and only stopping to reevaluate and grow when they face some sort of major life difficulty. Aside from that they don’t want to be bothered or challenged in their pursuits and purposes.
But as I look at the unfolding of my life in Christ I am constantly blown away at the depth and richness of life that everyday yields. The gospel of Jesus Christ does not offer us a mere moralistic therapeutic deism* (which seems to be the experience of, even, many christians today). The gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us with a deeper life that is built on the all consuming purpose of God for life. Who else can teach us about life except the Author of life himself? What is any other worldview worth in comparison to his?
Any attempt at creating something better is an assault on his integrity and an act of spiritual suicide. On what basis do we think that we can be the creators of our own worldview? I still have not understood the answer to this question.
But no matter how joyful I am in Christ – I find that there is always more out there. No matter how founded my life seems to become on his values – I find that there is always more and more to discover. I see that there is a richness of life in Christ that cannot be compared to any other, and which I have a hard to even putting into words. While so many people around seem to run to things and experiences and vacations for joy I don’t need to go anywhere – all I need to do is call to mind the founding realities of my life.
As I try to be as honest with myself as I can be – I notice that it is not just a superficial joy and peace the comes from thinking that “my sins are forgiven and I am free from eternal punishment”. The joy of Christ is a growing depth of satisfaction that comes as a result of his values and his purposes intertwining and growing into my life to become one inseparable whole. As I grow in this lifestyle, I am more and more convinced of the undeniable reality of the person of Jesus Christ and of the fact that the soul finds it’s satisfaction in him alone. With this perspective – nothing in life is apart from him, and nothing is apart from his joy and richness.
What conclusion to I reach as I observe and learn from the lives of the people around me? Is my perspective any better than theirs? Nope. My perspective is just as futile as theirs. The only perspective that is worth anything is the perspective of the One who invented the very idea of perspective – the One who put all things into place. He is the one who invented life, he is the one who invented joy. The more I grow into his perspective and out of mine – the more I see of my deep and constant need in him.
John Piper does a fine job of once again articulating this truth:
“In conversion we find the hidden Treasure of the kingdom of God. We venture all on it. And year after year in the struggles of life, we prove the value of the treasure again and again, and we discover the depths of the riches we had never known. And so the joy of faith grows. When Christ calls us to a new act of obedience that will cost us some temporal pleasure, we call to mind the surpassing value of following Him, and by faith in his proven worth, we forsake the worldly pleasure. The result? More joy! More faith! Deeper than before. And we go on in from joy to joy and faith to faith.”
* This term
was coined by sociologist Christian Smith who studied the religious lives of young people today and concluded that the basic premise of their lives is a superficial faith in a god that likes people to be good, rewards them for being good, and helps them find joy in being good and believing in him.