“Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” – the American Dream

Happy money womanIt is simple as this, “What is it that we find happiness and pleasure in?” The answer shows us the issues of our hearts. God is concerned with our hearts because their condition determines our final destination. Most Americans take the preamble of the Declaration of Independence as their God-given right. This determines the desires of their hearts and sad to say, our American thinking has permeated the world. Wikipedia explains.

“Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” is a well-known phrase in the United States Declaration of Independence. The phrase gives three examples of the “unalienable rights” which the Declaration says has been given to all human beings by their Creator, and for which governments are created to protect.

These words have been used to justify the worldly pursuits of our soul natures and living however we like. Many have adopted a hedonistic lifestyle, “doing our own thing.” The mantra of the hippie generation of the ’60’s and ’70’s was, “If it feels good, do it!” A large part of the western society adheres to this philosophy today.

But is this the gospel of Christ? I think not, yet the gospel we hear preached in churches today has been heavily influenced by this kind of thinking. One of the most seditious things spoken among Christians today is, “After all, we are all sinners.” In parroting this line we make room for sin in our lives as if it is normal. We use it as an excuse to not grow up in Christ. Yet concerning this attitude John wrote, “Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he [Jesus] was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him.” (1John 3:4-6, nrs).

The soul in man, also known in the Bible as the heart, is seen by God as something very contrary to life in His Kingdom. Jeremiah prophesied, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10, KJ2000). Because of its nature, the heart of fallen man cannot be trusted.

Now let us look at the real gospel of Christ and what Jesus actually taught,

 And he who does not take his cross and take the same road with me which I take, is not worthy of me. He who has found his soul-life, shall ruin and render it useless, and he who has passed a sentence of death upon his soul-life for my sake shall find it.  (Matt 10:38-39, Wuest’s)

This is not exactly the “seeker friendly” happy, happy gospel of today’s churches, is it? The word translated soul-life in this passage is psuche (from where we get the word psyche). How often have we heard a person say, “I am trying to find my life” or “I just want to be happy”?  When I started to follow Jesus, I had the idea that I could use all my natural talents and abilities as I saw best to further His kingdom. That’s what all the rest of the Christians I knew were doing. I remember them saying, “Man, if that rock star (football player, etc.) would just get saved, what a witness he would be for the kingdom of God!” No one showed me the words of Jesus where He said, “Apart from me you can do nothing!”  and “The flesh profits nothing.” Our natural abilities and propensities are the very life that Jesus said must be crucified as we take up our own God-given crosses. Christ’s death on the cross dealt with our sins, but the cross He gives each of us to take up as we follow Him, if we truly are His followers, deals with all soulish things in us, both the “good” and the bad. What is the outworking of this cross in our lives?  Paul put it this way, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” This is the real gospel of Christ! We lay down our soul lives and take up His. “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

And what is this higher life that we gain from the working of the cross on our soul lives? It is the very life of Christ in us. Yes, we can “pursue happiness,” but the happiness we are to have comes from pursuing the fullness of God as we deny ourselves:

“Behold, happy is the man whom God reproves; therefore despise not the chastening of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he binds up; he smites, but his hands heal.” (Job 5:17-18, RSV)

“Happy is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God.” (Psalm 146:5, RSV)

“Blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) is the man who reverently and worshipfully fears [the Lord] at all times [regardless of circumstances], but he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.” (Prov 28:14, AMP)

Contrary to popular religious sentiment, all our suffering as the saints of God does not come from the devil. As a good father chastens his children for their own good, God does not spoil His kids. Yes, we are the King’s kids, but the gifts He gives us are not the soulish kind that titillates our flesh, but rather the greatest gift of all, conforming us into the image and likeness of His Son.

“Come, let us return to the Lord; for it is he who has torn, and he will heal us; he has struck down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. Let us know, let us press on to know [intimately knowing] the Lord; his appearing is as sure as the dawn; he will come to us like the showers, like the spring rains that water the earth.” (Hos 6:1-3, NRS)

“Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (1John 3:2, KJ2000)

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21 comments on ““Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” – the American Dream

  1. Fred Thoren says:

    what exactly is a heard heart?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well said. Isn’t it interesting that the more we seek what we believe is pleasure, the more miserable we become? It is here in the Western world where we have the highest use of pharmaceuticals and anti-depressants. Suicide is a real problem as is divorce, addiction, violence. We’re a stressed out, depressed, anxiety ridden culture that just wants to be happy. Sometimes I wonder if perhaps we stopped trying to make ourselves so happy…we might actually become happier.

    Something I really like about the bible, it speaks often about joy, not happiness. And then more joy as in, re-joice. “And again I say, rejoice.” So now we’ve got joy times 3. Happiness is something that must be pursued, but joy comes from within and it is already ours, it is a gift, a victory that was given to us on the cross. How could anyone not be joyous over that?

    One of the most seditious things spoken among Christians today is, “After all, we are all sinners.”

    Yes, I quite agree. It is not really about faith versus works, but about how one must work their faith from within. We’re supposed to be judging the angels someday.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Michael says:

    Gabrielle wrote, “Well said. Isn’t it interesting that the more we seek what we believe is pleasure, the more miserable we become?” Yes, dear sister, so true. I think this is part of why Jesus said, “He who finds his live will lose it.” The harder we pursue happiness and success separate from God, the more depressed we get. I think of all those with money and fame who eventually killed themselves or O.D.ed on drugs.

    Jesus did say, “Blessed are the poor.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This article was a wonderful read, Michael. 🙂 Apropos “Blessed are the poor”… Due to the fact that I am completely uninspired right now, I only want to share the following quote with you on here.

    “The gospel is not a doctrine of the tongue, but of life. It cannot be grasped by reason and memory only, but it is fully understood when it possesses the whole soul and penetrates to the inner recesses of the heart.”
    ― John Calvin, Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Thank you, Susanne. God might not have inspired your words, but He directed you to share words that were inspired. Either way your comment was an inspiration. God bless you, always!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you very much for your kind words, Michael. 🙂

        May His Peace be with you – always.

        Susanne 🐱

        Liked by 1 person

      • Michael says:

        Susanne, we have a wonderful promise regarding the Peace of the Lord and the work He is doing in us as He conforms us into the image of His Son…

        “The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, says the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, says the LORD of hosts.” (Hag 2:9, KJ2000)

        God bless and keep you always,

        Michael 🐻

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Sky says:

    Insanity right you said it! There’s a huge difference between happiness and joy. I see happiness as seeking pleasure in the flesh, getting what we in our natural minds enjoy and prefer. And because we live in a fallen world surrounded by other fallen beings, life is a steady stream of frustrations so we end up being miserable. As we are living by the desires of the flesh. But Joy comes when we are trusting our Lord, are listening to Him and then walk in His will regardless of the desires of the flesh.. at least that’s the way it seems to me at this point. thank you Michael for a poignant reflection.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Skyla, it is written, “The joy of the Lord will be your strength.” Happiness as we know it is contingent on our surroundings and what goes on in our worldly lives. But the joy which comes into us from the Lord is from His kingdom, not this world. This is what Jesus was talking about when He said,

      “If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That you love one another, as I have loved you.” (John 15:10-12, KJ2000)

      It seams that He gives us all the love we need and as we abide in His love, His full joy abides in us. The world’s form of happiness is contingent on getting, but the Kingdom of God give us the joy of the Lord as we give and that giving come only from having hearts filled with His love.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Cie says:

    The other day the Lord said to me, “If your belief or faith is still socially acceptable, you are believing in the wrong gospel”.

    E.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Michael says:

      Elli, it is so typical of the Lord to be short and to the point. The nature of those who walk in true faith is to be other worldly and since we are NOT of this world, no more that Jesus is, the world rejects us. The false gospels of carnal men it perfectly acceptable by worldly people and to those born of the Spirit it is obvious what kingdom they are of.

      Thanks, dear sister. ⭐

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Pat Orr says:

    Thank you for the encouraging word.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Kennth Dawson says:

    Your telling it like it is!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. 1) A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage – Herbert Hoover (1928)

    OR

    2) A cross for every follower – Jesus (Matthew 16:24-25)

    Hmmm … notice the date of Hoover’s quote … months after he was inaugurated came the stock market crash. Such are the promises of men.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Michael says:

    Thanks, Kenneth. We try to seek Him before we speak or write.
    Love you, my brother! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Not a popular message, Michael. But so true.

    Liked by 1 person

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