God wants us happy? Isn’t that heresy?
There is a great revolution against religion that is taking place in the world today. No, I am not talking about what the “new atheists” are writing, nor what the special interest groups are promoting. I am referring to many Christians who have discovered that grace truly is amazing. They have discovered that there is freedom in Christ as opposed to the legalism that has become standard fare in many traditional church settings.
Some have gone so far as to have nothing to do with anything that hints of a traditional church service. I, for one, do not feel that all things traditional must be abandoned. However, a relationship with God should not be confined to empty forms. A relationship with God should be a thriving interpersonal affair between us and the divine. If the relationship is simply between us and our religious routines or duties, we have missed it! If the relationship is simply between us and our knowledge of theology or the Bible, we may even miss it there as well.
Enter an old line I used to fall for: “God does not want us happy, He wants us HOLY!” Wow, it sounded so good. It sounded like I was okay as long as I was doing my religious duties, never mind if I was miserable. I could get far in the field of religion by being ‘holier than thou’!
The old teachers reminded me that Jesus was a man of sorrows, so I should expect the same. After all, we were told to take up our crosses and follow Him. In its proper context, I agree, and would never make light of the suffering of our dear Savior.
But there is more to Jesus than that, and there should be more to our walk with Him than that. What the teachers didn’t focus on was that Jesus was also anointed with the oil of gladness more than [His] companions (Hebrews 1:9). More gladness in Christ than any others! And He for the joy set before Him endured the cross (Heb.12:2).
He didn’t do it grudgingly, but with grace He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich (2Cor.8:9). He didn’t come to bog us down, but to give us rest: For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matt.11:30).
If you only believe God wants you holy, and that He hasn’t made you holy already in Christ (1Cor.1:30; 2Cor.5:21) you will have a hard time resting. Your yoke will be hard and your burden heavy. It is faith that pleases God, not self-righteousness! Believe and be free!
Then tap into the joy of God. Resist the traditional way of thinking that He is always testing you and simply tolerating you. Begin to enjoy His unconditional love. Jesus expressed His will: that My joy may remain in you and that your joy may be full (John 15:11). God is a God of hope, who wants us to abound in hope, being filled with all joy and peace in believing (Romans 15:13).
This is where true relationship with God is enjoyed. I still loved God when I thought he was angry and simply tolerating me. But when I turned my faith to these truths, and when I sought out others like them through the Scriptures, I found rest and freedom!
Some theologians and teachers would suggest that this is somewhat “me-centered” and that we should instead focus on getting “busy” for the Lord. My point is that a relationship does have an element of “me” in it, and if we ignore the wonderful truths God wants us to enjoy, we will continue under the hard yoke and heavy burden. That slows us down. We can accomplish much more for Him and the kingdom when we realize that we are free, and that it is okay to be happy and trust Jesus for every good thing in our lives.
Religion, the world, and the devil (and our old habits) will continually try to bring us back into bondage. That’s why faith must be fed with these truths. It says we should hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of hope firm to the end (Hebrews 3:6). ‘Holding fast’ means to retain a good grip on this rope of hope, because it’s prone to being tugged away.