In case you haven't noticed, we live in a no-holds-barred, do-your-own-thing world. We have been force-fed on the thought that we exist to experience pleasure, that the pursuit of happiness and personal fulfillment should not be restrained. Especially by Bible bashing religious people who want to oppress and control the world by calling people sinful every time they try to have fun.
For some strange reason, we feel that personal freedom to do whatever we want is a birthright. As Eric Clapton sings, "I was born with a raging thirst…a hunger to be free!" And it's that hunger that fires up the celebration of our own independence and the crowning of "me" as final authority.
Why aren't we happy?
But I keep asking myself, if life in the unrestrained pleasure-lane is all it's cracked up to be, why aren't we happier? How distorted is it that we call binge drinking pleasure and sex on demand fulfilling? What are we saying about ourselves when life as we want it to be is so empty that we have to escape reality by drugging ourselves?
Peter Kreeft was on to something when he observed, "If we were not so bored and empty, we would not have to stimulate ourselves with increasing dosages of sex and violence - or just constant busyness. Here we are in the most fantastic fun and games factory ever invented - modern technological society - and we are bored, like a spoiled rich kid in a mansion surrounded by a thousand expensive toys" (www.peterkreeft.com/topics/heaven-difference)
Could it be that we have missed something?
The psalmist wrote, "(Happy) is the man who…delight(s) in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season, and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers" (Psalm 1 verses 1-3).
True happiness is not rooted in life beyond the boundaries, but rather in the sweet confines of God's wisdom. Contrary to popular opinion, God's ways are anything but oppressive edicts to make sure that we never enjoy life. The reality is that His laws are the key to authentic happiness.
Life is far more enjoyable when we don't lie to each other, when we don't steal, when we don't covet, when life is not always about us but about the needs and interests of others, when we give and when we forgive.
We should have had a clue about this from the beginning. Satan used the notion that God was oppressive in his very first assault on our ancient ancestors, Adam and Eve. Though they were enjoying life at its best with God in Eden, Satan offered them a better plan - the good life on their own terms! They bought the lie, and he slithered away leaving them alone in their shame and regret.
A life guided by the "I'll-do-whatever-I-want-to-do" formula inevitably ends up not being pleasurable at all. Left to ourselves, we make a lot of lame choices that end up leaving us in the chains of regret, guilt, and brokenness.
First published July 11, 2014
Mercy Cornish (21) lives in Christchurch and studies at Canterbury University. Mercy has completed a Bachelor of Arts degree studying Media and Communications and Political Science. This year Mercy is undertaking honours in Media and Communications.
Mercy Cornish' previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mercy-cornish.html