Since we’ll inevitably seek what we believe will bring us happiness, what subject is more important than the source of happiness? Just as we’ll live a wealth-centered life if we believe wealth brings happiness, so we’ll live a God-centered life if we believe God will bring us happiness. No one shops for milk at an auto parts store or seeks happiness from a cranky God.
As much as I believe in the holiness of God, I also believe highlighting God’s happiness is a legitimate and effective way to share the gospel with unbelievers or to help Christians regain a foothold in their faith.
Some imagine that following Christ boils down to, “Just say no to happiness!” Christian homes and churches need to counteract that misconception with a biblical doctrine of happiness, built upon the happiness of God.
In his classic book The Knowledge of the Holy, which influenced me profoundly as a new believer, A. W. Tozer wrote, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. . . . No religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. . . . The most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like.”[i]
It’s narcissistic to think of God only in terms of how loving, angry, forgiving, just, or patient He is in relation to us. We’re but creatures, latecomers, and incredibly small. He’s the Creator, without beginning and end, continuously vibrant and energetic. His identity and character don’t depend on us. He had a life before we met Him, and had we never met Him, He would have retained His identity. So the question isn’t merely whether God is happy with us but whether God, in Himself, is happy.
Jonathan Edwards said, “It is of infinite importance . . . to know what kind of being God is. For he is . . . the only fountain of our happiness.”[ii] Edwards knew that just as an unloving God couldn’t bring us love, an unhappy God couldn’t be our source of happiness.
As I mentioned in my last post, I recently spoke on happiness at my home church, Good Shepherd Community Church, in a three-session conference. (Check out session one if you missed it. The sessions can stand alone, but you’ll get the most out of each one if you watch them consecutively.) Today’s blog features session two, titled “The Happiness of God, and Happiness and Idolatry.” Pastor Alan Hlavka asked me another series of questions, including:
[i] A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (New York: HarperCollins, 1961), 1.
[ii] Jonathan Edwards, “The Importance and Advantage of a Thorough Knowledge of Divine Truth,” Select Sermons.
Photo credit: Christian Bruno via Unsplash