Sunday, 15 January 2006

Whatever makes you happy

A few years ago I said to a friend, "I started desiring God but I didn't get very far with it". He liked to quote that back at me out of its original context - which was that of discussing books by John Piper!

Anyway, I'm now trying again to read Desiring God, though this time it will be harder as I've only got it online. Something struck me from the first chapter:
"Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases" (Psalm 115:3). The implication of this text is that God has the right and power to do whatever makes him happy. That is what it means to say God is sovereign.
"Whatever makes you happy!" Frequently people recommend that as final arbitor in our individualistic society. That is what we pursue. Why else do we eat what we eat, read what we read, watch what we watch, ... We pursue whatever makes me happy. Is is wrong that we replace pursue whatever makes me happy? Surely Adam & Eve were given the Garden, each other, fruit of any tree but one, etc. etc. and chose each day what would make them happy? It is not pursuit of happiness which is problematic (note however that since the fall this tends to be selfish & at others' expense - but it is not necessarily so). No, what is wrong is that we try to pursue whatever makes me happy independent of God. Instead of walking in the garden with God, being happy in him and in his right to do whatever makes him happy, Adam & Eve wanted to make their own rules for doing whatever would make them happy. Instead of pursuing happiness in God, we pursue happiness in itself. Having rejected the source and rule of happiness, we wonder why we aren't satisfied. In other words, we reject knowing the source of happiness in order to have the right to write our own manuals on "How to be happy". So before I continue reading Desiring God, a quote from Douglas Adams came to mind (come on, Piper & Adams in one post?):
This planet has - or rather had - a problem, which was this: most of the people on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.

No comments: