Our society seems obsessed with happiness. ‘This doesn’t give me any energy’ is a frequently heard statement. To then make new choices that would give energy. Everything is done to make life as fun as possible. This blog is not nice. You have already been warned.
Then and now
Life was not so nice in the Middle Ages. Illness and death were everyday realities. There was no doubt about whether your studies were fun enough. Even during the Second World War and the years that followed, there was little fun in life for many people. What has crept in in recent decades that has given us the idea that a nice life is feasible? That we will be happier if we only focus on things that give us energy? Because although our Western world is extremely prosperous and we try hard to have a ‘fun’ time, the psychological need is greater than ever. The emergency services are not getting the job done. We are burned out, depressed, taking pills and torn deep inside because we cannot find what we are looking for. What a poignant reality.
As we are
We as Christians also participate in this. We like to listen to a gospel that says that we can come as we are. That we are beloved children and that God loves us very much. We enjoy fancy music and fun after a service. And we like to hear that God intends good for us. But hearing the message that God urgently calls us to change, reading our Bible and reflecting our lives on it, seeking God in the silence, working on our marriage, investing time in our neighbors, being hospitable, making radical choices and being contrary. How difficult that is! How easy it is to go along with the current flow of the search for happiness instead of seeking together what God asks of us.
A difficult choice
When my husband René told me in 2016 that he thought it would be better for him to quit his good job at the Dutch Railways in order to give his full attention to his calling (building communities in the neighborhoods of the Netherlands), I panicked. to. My future perspective of financial carefree fell completely to pieces. Not very attractive. I think it took me six months to get there. Before I realised; this isn’t fun, but it’s good. This is what God asks of us and we can trust Him. That has also proven to be the case. Because although it is exciting every year whether we have enough financial resources, we have never lacked anything. Then you notice that inner peace and peace from God is worth so much more than earthly certainties. This knowledge challenges me to continually look for the good that God has in mind for me. Super exciting for a (natural) security seeker like me, but it teaches me more and more about God’s goodness and how His blessing is linked to my obedience to Him.
Against the flow
I recently heard a song that contained the phrase: ‘ To get to the source you have to swim against the current ‘. That sentence touched me, because isn’t that also what Jesus taught us? His Kingdom is radically different. Against the flow. Comfortable? No. Nice? On the contrary. It hurts. You must even die to yourself. But the promise He has attached to it is great. A life of obedience brings you close to the Source of life. True happiness can be found there. There is God, our Creator. He knows exactly what you need. He wants to make you whole and fulfill your deepest desire(s). No promise of a nice life. A promise of a life in His peace.
A different culture
I am reminded of the text from Galatians 6:9: Therefore let us do good without giving up, for if we do not faint, we will reap the harvest when the time comes. Don’t be guided by what is nice (our culture), but do what is right (Kingdom culture). How wonderful it would be if, in these times without large gatherings, we would look for the good that God asks of us in small groups. Because then the church comes to life, the Kingdom of God becomes visible through us and we can be a great blessing to all those people looking for happiness.
For a city set on a mountain cannot be hidden (Matt. 5:14). Radically different. For the King!