Many live with the misconception that the Christian life is dull, uptight, and colorless. People associate Christianity with the fun things they’re not allowed to do, yet really have no idea what it’s all about.
I have been on both sides of that fence.
I lived without God for the first 17 years of my life and pretty much sampled everything this world has to offer. I watched as my alcoholic mother married and divorced seven times. Even before someone told me about Jesus, I knew the answer was not in the things I had observed or tried. Deep down, I knew that all of that was a dead end. I knew there had to be more, and it sent me on an existential search.
In all honesty, there are some things this world offers that can be fun — for a while. It’s sort of like riding a roller coaster that has some of its tracks missing: It’s a real rush until you reach the place where the tracks stop, and then the fun ends abruptly.
Even the Bible tells us there is pleasure in sin for a time (Hebrews 11:25). But the Bible also warns that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). When it’s all said and done, the world can only offer cheap knock-offs of genuine happiness.
If you are looking to this world to make you happy you will never be satisfied.
Yet God’s Word reveals the way to genuine happiness. The psalmist writes: “How joyful are those who fear the Lord, and delight in obeying his commands” (Psalm 112:1, nlt). Another translation says that “all who fear God and trust in him are blessed beyond expression” (tlb).
Many view this life choice as restrictive, like an ankle monitor with a flashing red light. But it’s quite the opposite. God’s commandments are not like the bars of a cage to keep you in; they are barriers of protection to keep evil out. God gives us parameters and guidelines and absolutes for our own good to keep us out of trouble and the devastating unhappiness that follows.
The Bible tells us to never seek happiness outright, but seek to be holy and watch as happiness seeps steadily into our lives as a byproduct. By the way, don’t let that word “holy” throw you. Maybe if I spelled it differently, it would make more sense: Live a “wholly–committed” life to Jesus Christ, and you will be happy as a result. That doesn’t mean following Jesus is easy or that Christians don’t face difficulty, sickness, and even tragedy. But the happiness the Bible promises is more than the fleeting, watered-down version we find in our culture today. The happiness the Bible promises is real, lasting, and fulfilling.
Without God, life is never full enough. Solomon, who tried and had it all said, “Everything is so weary and tiresome! No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content” (Ecclesiastes 1:8, nlt).
The fleeting happiness this world has to offer comes and goes depending on your circumstances. But true happiness is a byproduct of a meaningful life. According to the Bible, if we seek to know God and discover His plan for our lives, we will truly find the happiness that has eluded us.
You can’t find happiness by seeking it. You can only find it by seeking Him. As C. S. Lewis observed, “God designed the human machine to run on Himself.”
The reason you have this emptiness inside is because you were made that way! There is nothing this world offers that can fill a void that was created for God Himself. The Bible tells us that He has placed “eternity in [our] hearts“ (Ecclesiastes 3:11). We are uniquely made in God’s image. All the possessions, success, sex, fame, or power will not fill that void. Only God will.
So, stop chasing happiness, and instead, follow the Lord with all of your heart, strength, and mind. And happiness will come to stay. Forever.
Greg Laurie is the pastor and founder of the Harvest churches in California and Hawaii and Harvest Crusades. He is an evangelist, best-selling author and movie producer. “Jesus Revolution,” a feature film about Laurie’s life from Lionsgate and Kingdom Story Company, releases in theaters February 24, 2023.