Thursday, October 8, 2015

To be happy

God wants us to be happy. Yes, you heard me right. God desires our happiness. Call it happiness, call it joy, even call it blessedness, they’re all facets of a single thing, a sole state of affairs, what theologians and poets often name ‘Paradise.’ Yes, and the tourist bureaus too, even when they call Tahiti or the Caymans, or Bali, ‘Paradise,’ except that for them, they’re actually offering a limited and temporary visit to an approximation of that elusive location.

But God wants us to be happy. He is glad when we have not only our basic necessities but even our luxuries, happy when we are hard at work doing something that fulfills us, and pleased when we find pleasure in those exalted gifts that He prepares for us—love, music, literature, and all the ‘fine’ arts, adventure and, yes, even entertainments. How could God, our loving Father, not want us to be happy? Even we want that for our children, don’t we?

It seems that what separates religious people from the non-religious is their attitude toward human happiness. Often the religious take it for granted that ‘this world is in the power of the evil one,’ and therefore any pleasures we take in it are automatically somehow sinful and need to be extinguished. And what do they offer as a replacement? Well, there are religious services, revival meetings, bible study and prayer, sometimes even charity work.

To the non-religious, this seems a sorry substitute for what they think will make them happy. We all know what that is. Well, I mean, whether we’re religious or non-religious we know what makes us ‘happy.’ Again, it’s only our core beliefs or indifference that divide us. Carnivores will enjoy a tasty steak and be happy to eat it, but some of the religious will choose a vegan salad over the steak if it’s Friday. How they regard the carnivore seated across the table is the real divide.

God wants us to be happy. He wants us to be able to live our lives without fear of violence. He wants us to be well-fed, clothed and housed. He wants us to have and to be good neighbors. He wants us to be healthy, physically, emotionally, spiritually. He wants us to know love, to be able to experience ‘the joy of sex.’ He wants us to be literate, avid participants in the cultures in which we live. He wants us to be creative on every level. He wants us to be free.

The religious, when they read what I just wrote, will immediately raise objections, or at least want to attach stipulations. Yes, I am one of them, but I will bide my time. The non-religious, reading my list of what makes God happy, will possibly agree with me, except that they might say, ‘Well, right, but then, who needs God?’ Some of them will have had their mindset shaped by the lyrics of the song ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon,

                    Imagine there's no heaven,
                    It's easy if you try.
                    No hell below us,
                    Above us only sky.
                    Imagine all the people
                    Living for today.

It used to grill me when I heard those words, even though something about the song rang true. I just couldn’t stand the thought of ‘all the people living for today’ because I have seen them doing exactly that—living for today, and leaving God out of the picture. Actually, this still does rub me the wrong way. I want people to give thanks and praise to God for all the good things they enjoy. When they don’t, it pushes me involuntarily toward resentment.

But I don’t have to defend God, only love Him, and show Him, if I can, to anyone who wants to see.

God wants us to be happy. Christianity has continued for two thousand years, trying over and over in many different ways to deliver that happiness to the human race, because deep down, everyone knows that it’s not wrong to be happy, whether there is a God or not. Now that we’re at the threshold of a ‘brave, new world,’ unexpectedly emerging from a mechanical to an information age, Christianity is in the best position to know itself and to transform society.

‘The world is in the power of the evil one.’ It still is, isn’t it? Certainly, as anyone can find out by exploring the internet, for with an increase in freedom comes an increase in sin, incontrovertible proof of our race’s urge to self-annihilation. But through the same freedom comes an almost supernatural transparency fulfilling a prophecy of Christ, who says, ‘there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, and nothing secret that will not be made known.’

This transparency makes available to anyone who wishes to see, what are the mistakes of Christianity and all other religions and social structures, and forces everyone, religious and non-religious, to come to an honest and rational recognition of what really is good, for the individual and for the race, and how what makes God happy can be realized on earth. This planet is not only the place where ‘God became man’ but also where man, at last, becomes God.

Now, after choking on that last statement—I am addressing both the religious and the non-religious—I have finished biding my time and want to close with this thought. God wants us to be happy. What this means is, He wants our relationship restored to what it was ‘in the Garden.’ No religion, just relationship. No sin and death, just one will and life. To recognize Him in us and in all things, to give thanks and praise, and to follow His commandment, to love one another.

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