I must confess that I have an aversion to the term, “pursuit of happiness” and I bristle when people use it to justify their behavior.
Happiness, although thrown into the Bill of Rights by Thomas Jefferson, is not really a Christian imperative. We act like it is – using it as an excuse to leave a spouse, to buy unnecessary possessions,or to gorge ourselves at the buffet line of life.
I am a “happy” person – and I consider my outlook to be positive. It’s my faith that sets the table for happiness. But to pursue happiness creates all kinds of ugly situations. Read Malcom Muggeridge’s thoughts on this:
“Of all the different purposes set before mankind, the most disastrous is surely “the pursuit of happiness,” slipped into the American Declaration of Independence along with “life and liberty” as an unalienable right, almost accidentally, at the last moment. Happiness is like a young deer, fleet and beautiful. Hunt him, and he becomes a poor frantic quarry; after the kill, a piece of stinking flesh.”
The pursuit of happiness has morphed into the pursuit of money. Princeton researchers issued a report
that the magic ‘elixer’ of compensation was $75,000. Earn less than that, and you’re not happy. Earn more than that, and you have the potential to be a happier person.
This is why we see people doing ugly things to get promoted, to get ahead. That’s why the meanest and ugliest rats win the race. That’s why we have corruption and greed and shenanigans going on in business.
Jesus calls us to a different kind of pursuit — joy.
Joy is found not in pampering our soul, but pleasing our Creator. God isn’t impressed with our money, with our titles, with our fame. He looks at our heart, at our character, at our souls. The pursuit of happiness is trumped by the quest for joy.
Do we have an inherent right to happiness? Is there a certain discipline in mourning, in contemplation, in sadness? What do you do to “get happy?” What part does money play into your happiness?