Happiness Is Relevant In Every Era
Possibly In Every Situation
Jesus spoke to us as individuals but He spoke about issues common to us all. We are all different in some ways but very much alike in others and Jesus addressed Himself to the areas we have in common.
For example, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke to an issue that is universal…happiness. In most translations the word used for “happy” is “Blessed” but the two words are synonymous and Jesus used the word nine times in the first nine verses of His sermon. Obviously, “Happy” is healthy and He was telling us that He is for it. Everyone wants to be happy and Jesus wants us to be so.
Show me the person who does not want to be happy and I will show you someone who is dead. People take drugs, drink too much and attempt suicide because they are tired of being unhappy not because they wish to avoid being happy. They know that addictive, destructive behavior doesn’t make them happy but it can at least numb the pain of unhappiness.
Jesus was not telling us how to avoid unhappiness, He was telling us how to achieve genuinely lasting happiness in spite of the unhappy things we experience. He wasn’t suggesting that we would not have moments of unhappiness. He was encouraging us to believe that the unhappy moments will never prevent us from being genuinely blessed.
In fact, unhappy circumstances are not the enemy. Difficult times are opportunities to reflect not shut down. These are moments to ask personal questions about how we are living, what we are expecting and what improvements we can make. You will never achieve the genuinely happy place unless you first, honestly and completely, explore and learn to manage the unhappy place.
Happiness is without question the common thread in the Sermon on the Mount and throughout much of what Jesus taught. But the things that Jesus said would produce happiness are not thought of as very happy things and the first item on the list seems contradictory, “poor in spirit.”
We think of happy people as being full of spirit not repressed. Which person is it that begins life attempting to be poor in any way? We want to have a wealth of good looks, money, talent, good luck and anything else you could mention. We want to be poor in nothing.
Poor in any category on any level is not what we consider a happy place to be. Most of the effort we make to achieve happiness is aimed at avoiding poverty not mingling with it. We are conditioned to want and expect more of everything all the time. “Poor” for us is the worst place to be and Jesus seems to be saying it is the first place to be. But don’t get confused by the semantics. Jesus was not teaching against wealth or for poverty, His teaching was aimed at being happy. Never forget that. Happiness is where we want to go and where Jesus is attempting to take us.
The formula Jesus presented for achieving happiness includes many things we normally associate with tragedy – poverty, mourning, meekness, hungering and thirsting, mercy and so on. These are the things we, by nature, attempt to avoid and Jesus said these are the doorways to happiness.
For more observations about “Happiness” in the Sermon on the Mount read Does Jesus Want You To Be Happy?
Next post: What does “Poor in Spirit” mean?