Recently, one of the leaders of a mega-church in North America made the following statement:
"I just want to encourage every one of us to realize: When we obey God, we're not doing it for God. I mean, that's one way to look at it. We're doing it for ourselves. Because God takes pleasure when we're happy. That's the thing that gives him the greatest joy this morning. So I want you to know this morning, just do good for your own self. Do good 'cause God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship him, you're not doing it for God, really. You're doing it for yourself, because that's what makes God happy. Amen?"
It has been a couple of weeks ago since this statement has been heard in that church and subsequently around the world. I haven't been able to shake it off because, sadly, this statement seems to pervade through much of our theology and the way we perceive God's role in the lives of His creatures. God is here for us, orbiting around our little worlds, moving the machinery of heaven with one purpose alone: to bless us. To prosper us. To weed out every discomfort, to purge our minds and our souls of every ounce of suffering, to cancel the dust of poverty off the soles of our shoes. God exists for one reason alone: to inhale our troubles and our deficiencies and to exhale the goods filling our ever-expanding barns as testaments to His blessing. He is always near, thinking up new ways to pamper our bodies and stuff our barns, in hopes that our abundance will draw the world with chords of envy into our crystal citadel. This god requires no sacrifice, makes no demands on our flesh, and affirms our tireless pursuit of self-gratification.
I listen to the happiness gospel disturbed. Calvary looms over my life too large to synthesize it into a formula for worldly success. The suffering of Christ is too encompassing to reduce it to a feel-good patch or a get-more scheme. Jesus died -and His call to me and to us is a call to death (Galatians 2:20). A call to crucify our lust. Our desire for worldly acclaim. Calvary urges me to place the whole of my desires, the heart of my pursuits and the bent of my will on the altar of perpetual sacrifice (Romans12:1). Paul's admonishing to "glory in our sufferings", to "put to death the deeds of your sinful nature", to "fight the good fight of faith" are worlds away from the gospel of happiness. God does not exist to make our earthly sojourn a spa retreat where every star whispers our name and every atom collides to create our happiness. We were made for Him, to bring Him glory and to exalt the excellency of His name. Everything-and everyone-is for Him, through Him, and by Him. One day, when He will write the final sentence of His story and seal our final chapter into eternity, the only name our lips will exalt will be His.
After all, it's all about Him.
"The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." (Colossians 1:15-17).
“You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being" (Rev. 4:11)