Friday, June 10, 2005

True happiness in the real world

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Thomas Jefferson believed that one of the fundamental rights of man was the pursuit of happiness. Now, this is probably not true in the ultimate sense of God’s decree. God does what he pleases—we are not autonomous from him. In terms of human governments though, Jefferson is right.

The question I wish to ask and suggest an answer for is: what is the proper way to pursue it? Where can you find real happiness?
Isaiah 55:1-3
Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without price.
2Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And let your soul delight itself in abundance.
3Incline your ear, and come to Me.
Hear, and your soul shall live;
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you--
The sure mercies of David.(NKJV)

First, I believe it is a good observation that the waters, wine, milk, and bread in this passage are not physical wine, bread, etc. This is shown by the fact that we are told to come and buy it without money and without price. No, this is spiritual food that is from the hand of God himself. Calvin has a good comment on verse 3:
This assemblage of words makes still more evident what I slightly mentioned a little before, that God leaves nothing undone which is fitted to correct and arouse our tardiness. Yet there is an implied reproof; for they must be excessively stupid who, when they are so gently called, do not instantly obey. This is a remarkable passage, from which we see that our whole happiness lies in obeying the word of God. When God speaks in this manner, the object which he has in view is to lead us to life; and therefore the blame lies wholly with ourselves, because we disregard this saving and life‑giving word.

“Our whole happiness lies in obeying the word of God.” Man, that is a statement if I ever saw one. Our real happiness lies in obeying our Creator. “And let your soul delight itself in abundance.” This abundance we are to feast on is the Word of God. It is so liberating to mediate on the Word when everything around you is trying to destroy your happiness. I need to stop worrying about all the things happening around me and concentrate on inclining my ear to God. It is only then that those other things come into their proper prospective.

In last week’s sermon, my pastor talked about the Bible keeping us connected to reality—keeping us “connected to the world as it really is.” The text was Psalm 115, which makes a contrast between the God who lives and the vain idols of men.
Psalm 115:3-8
3But our God is in heaven;
He does whatever He pleases.
4Their idols are silver and gold,
The work of men's hands.
5They have mouths, but they do not speak;
Eyes they have, but they do not see;
6They have ears, but they do not hear;
Noses they have, but they do not smell;
7They have hands, but they do not handle;
Feet they have, but they do not walk;
Nor do they mutter through their throat.
8Those who make them are like them;
So is everyone who trusts in them.(NKJV)

The phrases that stuck with me the most about the sermon was the utter contrast Pastor made between these idols and the living God. Look at the irony: these idols have noses, ears, mouths, etc, and yet they can’t smell, hear, speak, see or anything, and YET the God who is in heaven, who does not have eyes, ears, a nose or mouth sees, hears, smells and speaks. People become like the God they serve, so for us to really see and really hear we must serve the God who is not of the earth. Check out the sermon here if you want. It is the June 5, 2005 one.

We must serve the true God if we are ever to have real happiness in the real world.


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