A common evangelistic tactic is to address the happiness of the individual being evangelized. The evangelist will suggest that the person is not truly happy doing whatever it is that they’re doing or having whatever it is that they have and then move on to suggest that true happiness is found in Jesus. But as I sat and thought about this line of thinking this morning I realized how harmful it can be in the long run.
First, it’s simply not the case in everyone’s experience that true happiness is only found in Jesus. For some that’s true, but not for all. Personally speaking, I was truly happy doing the things I was doing and having the things I had before I came to a saving faith in Christ. Why wouldn’t I be happy? I was a sinful man gratifying all of my sinful desires. I didn’t confess Jesus as Lord because I was searching for happiness; I did it out of the conviction that I had sinned and needed a savior.
And if I’m gonna keep on keepin’ it real, there has been plenty of unhappiness in my life since I’ve been in Christ. Life hasn’t gone the way I thought it would go when I got into this thing. But the problem isn’t happiness or the lack thereof. The problem is acting as if happiness is the goal. If that’s true then it can be met outside of Christ. If happiness is the goal then what’s to stop the individual from leaving Christ at the first sign of unhappiness as a Christian? And this is really why I think that this kind of evangelistic tactic can prove harmful. It sets up an expectation that may not always be met.
When we’re talking about happiness then we’re placing the emphasis on us, but shouldn’t it be on God? Shouldn’t our ultimate goal be pleasing, obeying, and glorifying God and not necessarily ourselves? And in truth, who isn’t pleased with themselves when God is pleased with them? Who isn’t going to be happy to hear their Lord say, “well done, good and faithful servant”? So happiness may not be the goal but it should result from meeting the goal, which is pleasing/obeying/glorifying God. At least that’s what I’m thinking. Feel free to contradict me.