Happiness is the most sought after, yet the most elusive goal of so many people. The dream of someday attaining happiness is often the motivation for beginning things and the loss of happiness ultimately becomes the undoing. It dangles in front of us like the proverbial carrot on a stick but no matter how much we chase after it, it never gets any closer. We experience small highs as we gain or achieve the next thing that we were sure would satisfy the unending want, but not only does the satisfaction never come, but the longer we chase after our own happiness, the further we seem to feel from it. We look to other people to fulfill this but because we are all broken in nature, we are unable to be fulfilled by people apart from God. The book of Ecclesiastes was written by King Solomon, who was known for his God-given wisdom. He describes his journey of trying to understand the meaning of life as he sought after happiness in every way imaginable. As King, he had anything and everything that could ever be desired from status, wealth, pleasure and even love and yet he described it all as vanity.
In the beginning, God created people because he desired relationship. We were made unlike anything else that God ever created because although he gave us free will, he also put in us a need to connect with Him that absolutely cannot be fulfilled by anything else. In order to teach us this, Jesus left his place in Heaven to come down to earth and relate to us. He lived a life free of sin and selfishness and told us to follow after his example. He died so that we could live and not only join him in Heaven someday, but also so we can be fulfilled and connected with him while we are living here on the earth. His life and death was the ultimate example of self-sacrifice, but his promise to us in this is happiness and fulfillment. This is the exact opposite from what our instincts tell us. Because we were born with a sin nature, our instincts tell us to self-preserve and pursue our own desires and happiness and to earn our own satisfaction. How is that working for us? It doesn’t take much to look around and see that selfishness does not bring happiness, so more selfishness will not bring us closer to our goal of happiness. Throughout the gospels, Jesus tells us how to find life and he lived it out as an example and simply said, “follow after me”. Matthew 10:39 says “whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake shall find it”. This seems completely backwards to our sin-natured minds and I emphasized “for my sake” because it is completely possible to sacrifice and give yourself over to other things or other people and still lose your life. We were created by God to love and serve only Him by loving and having a servant’s heart towards people. This is why he intentionally chose to use people to spread the truth about his love for us. He made us in His image and he wants people to see His love through us like an image reflection of Him. We are happy when we are fulfilling the purpose we were created for and every unselfish sacrifice that we make towards God by loving His people, he replaces it and turns right back and blesses us because everything from God is good and this is how he intends for us to receive happiness. It’s no wonder that in our distortion of these truths by those of us who call ourselves followers of Christ, our selfishness has reflected a negative image of God towards people that God really loves. People who are desperately searching for answers have been detoured and felt rejected by the negative and unloving image we have reflected. This is because too many of us who say we are following after Christ really don’t understand the incredible nature of His love for us. We feel condemned and unrighteous so we reflect that condemnation and accusation of unrighteousness towards others. We need to understand how much God really loves us so that we can reflect that image of God to a world who is desperately seeking something real and genuine. John 13:34-35 ” I give you a new commandment that you should love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” .