“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Pursuit of happiness

Joined with life and liberty, the pursuit of happiness fills out the description of the true purpose of man. The deep thinker who coined that now famous phrase had read and studied widely in the field of law and philosophy and religion.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Happiness, being more illusive than the first two unalienable rights, cannot be nailed down except by precluding it with a more definable, measurable verb. Life alone is not enough for the intelligent human. Life and liberty are not enough. If we were amoebas without intelligence, life alone would suffice. But because we are intelligent we demand freedoms of thought and expression. Yet, life and liberty are not enough. We are also spiritual beings. Thus, the pursuit of happiness.

So the American Declaration of Independence speaks to the physical, mental, and spiritual components of the nature of man.

But how do we get to that illusive happiness? We can pursue it all our life long; will we ever attain it? I believe we cannot find it in ourselves. There are so many diversions in life, especially in America. Almost all of them focus on pleasing self. We can spend our whole life running from one self-pleasure to another, as so many have done, and never discover happiness. This is because real happiness for self is found in the paradox of forgetting self instead of remembering it.

But we are sinners. Sin has soaked into our being, we are marinated in it, and sin is selfishness. Our parents can’t help us out of this sad condition. Psychologists and psychiatrists can’t remove sin. Of all the taxpayers’ money poured into science, none has produced a cure for the most basic cause of humanity’s trouble.

Why can’t science find the answer? It could, but it has divorced itself from its Creator, and refuses to listen to His counsel. Science is married to another counselor, who has been leading it further from the truth and from its purpose in uplifting the world.

Forgetfulness of self is the path to happiness and uplifting troubled man. It is also the answer to liberty and life. A good definition of liberty is being equally free and independent. This definition gives freedom to others—forgetting self. And our life is ministered to as we lose sight of self. Its because of self-serving that we find the good things creating disease and turning to corruption in our hands.

But humanity has this endemic problem of selfishness, self-centeredness, self-preservation, self-justification, self-congratulation, self-exaltation, self-pity, and all the other self-prefixed words. We seem to be in a race to build up a world that is far departed from the natural order handed down from the beginning. The last vestige of our natural character, made in the image of our Maker, is quickly being replaced by a character mold that pampers and nourishes self.

How do we escape selfishness? To the extent that we separate from selfishness happiness will grow. So how can it happen? How will we be delivered from this body of death?

Trust in someone. Faith. No other way will we lay down our sword to protect the all-important self than if we can trust in another. Every relationship stands or falls depending on the presence or absence of trust. Only within a relationship can selfishness be dissolved and washed out of our system.

But the bond found in a friendship, marriage, or even a nuclear family is not big enough to remove the selfishness that plagues us so. Those human relationships don’t go deep enough, the issues surrounding those social units don’t demand powerfully enough. Yes, forgiveness is required; self-forgetfulness is required in human relationships. But not to the degree that brings a complete removal of self, to have sin not just cut off at ground level, but pulled up by the roots. This is the big need of the world today.

So how do we get to this illusive trust? The Bible. No, its not necessarily the easiest book to read. But it immediately appeals to that comatose power of trust which is atrophied in us all. Do we recognize that appeal to trust? Some will see it sooner than others, depending on the amount of life's abuse or neglect suffered, but all can eventually see it if they persist in looking for it.

What is it about the Bible that appeals to our trust? The reality of it all; the real people, common, everyday people who made mistakes or faithfully did what was right. The dating of events, the connections with verifiable outside rulers, the people and places and things which left evidence that archeologists have unearthed over the past two centuries. The inside view of flawed or personable foreign kings and leaders who outside the inspired record were found in their own histories to be untouchable and infallible gods worthy of worship.

What else? The mercy, the abundance of mercy booming from the Bible. The forbearance, the pathos of God and His prophets, the promises to Israel and to us today, the Good Tidings of God's acceptance.

Anything else? The justice. The righteousness, truth, judgment on evil exemplified therein. Mercy and justice, the two polar elements of love—deep, responsible, true love. Justice is scary to the self-preserving heart. Justice and righteousness and truth immediately cause a wall of distrust to separate us and protect us from them.

We’re all for mercy—mercy for us, that is. Our selfish hearts are all for justice—justice for the bad guy, that is. But when the table is turned, and we must give mercy to the “bad guy” or accept justice for ourselves, we feel very nervous! Suddenly, our trust in the Book becomes tenuous; and our faith in the Person behind the Book blows out the window. We become like the courageous lion in the Wizard of Oz; we go running away and jump out a window.

But if we will endure the discomfort of fearful, albeit equitable, justice, accepting that the finger of conviction can point at us as well as the other person; if we will accept for ourselves and appreciate the mercy that was proffered others; then, we will find the Bible and Divine mercy and justice—Divine love—slowly but surely transforming our minds and selfish natures. For it is written “God considered Abraham blameless despite all the bad he had done. Now it was not written for his sake alone that God forgave him, but for us also, if we will believe Him to forgive us.” (Rom. 4:22-24). If it was written down, it was for all the world who would read it afterwards.

“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Rom. 15:4).


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