Friday, August 27, 2010
The Happiness Dilemma - Part 3
By Justin Edwards
We continue in Chapter 3 of Ray Comfort's God Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life: The Myth of the Modern Message where he explains the competition associated with the modern message that seeks to bring self-improvement and life-enhancement to its hearers. In Parts 1 and 2, Ray explained how "problem" people are the target of the modern gospel, which essentially leaves out those who are already content or happy with their "wonderful life" now. He also explained that the brokenhearted, the poor, the captives, the blind, and oppressed spoken of by Jesus are not specifically referring to temporal needs, but rather to the spiritual needs of sinners. Jesus came to save sinners, and as such, He came for the broken and contrite hearts of the humble.
Let's continue in the chapter:
Another dilemma with the life-enhancement message is this: If you search the Internet using the keywords "true happiness," you will find many websites offering Jesus as a solution. However, the ideas that "Jesus gives true happiness" has some competition. There are more than 100,000,000 other results to the keywords "true happiness," many of which refer to self-help strategies, such as that proposed by author Martin E.P. Seligman in Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment.
The Jehovah's Witnesses believe they have the answer for happiness. Their Watchtower magazine states, "Through a study of the Bible, you can find true happiness despite your problems...Jehovah's Witnesses will be pleased to show you the Scriptural answers that you need to know if you are to be truly happy."
Buddhism likewise claims to be the path to true happiness, as the Basic Buddhism Guide assures us: "Buddhism explains a purpose to life, it explains apparent injustice and inequality around the world, and it provides a code of practice or way of life that leads to true happiness."
Hinduism offers the same thing: "Without remembering the name of God, even the sovereign King of the world, would be unhappy...By dwelling on the Name of God, he can obtain true happiness. Hence, realization of God is the key that unlocks the doors to unending happiness, eternal peace of mind and unimaginable bliss."
So does Islam. In a lecture delivered in Washington, Maulana Shah Muhammad Abdul Aleem Siddiqui al Qaderi expounded on "The Quest for True Happiness." He said, "Here I shall state some basic facts, and the principles pertaining thereto, so that if anyone practices them, he or she may attain peace of mind, comfort of the soul and true happiness."
In December 2007, a Gallup poll asked Americans how satisfied they were with their personal lives. Fifty-two percent responded that they were "very happ," and another 40 percent said that they were "fairly happy." So the modern gospel has some stiff competition - the vast majority of people in the United States are already enjoying a wonderful plan for their lives, and they are quite happy as they are. For any who do feel something is missing and look to religion for happiness, they will find a smorgasbord of choices all offering to improve their life on earth.
If only Jesus gives true happiness, as the modern message maintains, then it follows that the happiness the world gives must be false - or at the very least, shallow. Consequently, the Christian sees his job as one of unmasking the world's promise of happiness and contrasting it with the true and lasting happiness that Jesus gives. From there arises the "Jesus is better than beer" mentality. This is demeaning to the name of Jesus, and completely unnecessary. There is no contest between Jesus and beer, because happiness isn't the issue.
[to be continued]