In preparation for The Flourishing Project, I have done quite a bit of reading and studying over the last 6 months. I read a dozen or so of the most important books on happiness. It was really interesting to find these authors agreeing that spiritual (or religious) people are happier people. They did not necessarily limit that to Christianity, but in the things I say next, I am focused on how the Christian faith is the context and foundation for great happiness (joy, satisfaction, contentment, and blessedness).
Christianity is simply the great spiritual reality of how God has created and wired his universe to function. See yesterday’s post, if you missed it. God is. God exists. Transcendence is not a figment of your imagination. There is an almighty, transcendent, sovereign, creator of the universe. The human heart longs for transcendence. You long to be connected to something (or Someone) that is amazingly awesome. That is exactly what Christianity offers.
Christianity involves the grace of God, the unconditional love of God, the always new every morning mercies of God, the absolute forgiveness of God, and freedom from sin, Satan, and death. Without sounding trite, those rich-in-substance doctrines of faith are great and reliable sources of our happiness.
Christianity promotes humility and gratitude. Secular studies done by researchers who have NO Christian bias have found that humble people are happier people. Grateful people are happier people. Christianity makes you humble, grateful, and happier!
Christianity promotes loving your neighbor and doing good things on behalf of others. Once again, secular researchers confirm that doing good and kind things for others makes you happier. Look, I don’t want to sound like a used car salesman, but it is becoming really obvious – Christianity is good for you!
Life is hard. Being DUMB makes it harder. Being dumb about moral issues of right and wrong, good and evil, are really bad for you. They are really bad for your happiness levels. Christianity promotes a healthy morality and a virtuous way of living. In other words, it creates inside you a moral strength that keeps you from being dumb about good and evil. By the way, the world is working overtime to convince you that being morally promiscuous and unrestrained in as many ways as you want is good for you. It is amazing that people are still buying that swamp land in Florida.
Christianity promotes community and friendship. Once more, all the research points to being in healthy, loving relationships as one of the SINGLE MOST NECESSARY INGREDIENTS for happiness.
We will revisit each of these six realities at various points in the Get Real series.
I am not saying that every Christian is the happiest person around. I have met my fair share of grumpy Christians. Hey–I’ve been that person myself from time to time (fortunately, those episodes are getting further and further apart).
Nor am I saying you can’t find miserable, legalistic, uptight, critical, angry, judgmental Christians. You can find them everywhere. They give Christianity a bad name. They kind of remind me of what Jesus said in Matthew 23 (especially Matthew 23:15).
I am saying that it is the essence of Christianity to produce a Way of Flourishing in you. Following Jesus (who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life) in faithful discipleship is the path to happiness. As you FLOURISH you begin to experience more and more of this thing called happiness-joy-delight.
If I am to help you THRIVE,
then I must help you become
a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ.
Please re-read that sentence. It may be one of the single most important things I will say in 50 days of blogging on The Flourishing Project.
May you Flourish in Jesus,