For as long as I can remember, New Year's Day has been a day of good will. Greetings from family, friends, neighbours and even strangers within community, joyfully invite us to a “happy new year”.
So, what does a happy new year look like for a Christian?
The Bible declares that God wants us to be happy. I love God’s practical invitation to live, as seen in Ecclesiastes 2:24. Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labour. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God. This reminds us that we are given a lot of permission to enjoy the physical things of life! In truth however, we often make a mess of the invitation by losing sight of God’s perspective.
In a quote from C.S Lewis he explains it like this - We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
My observation is this is very true of humanity’s view of happiness! However, as Christians we are given direction to the ultimate source of happiness. In Psalm 144:15 God declares - Happy are the people whose God is the LORD! As we enter 2022, we may risk short-changing ourselves by not recognising “God is the Lord”.
Our response in choosing to serve God is the key for a life of happiness and fulfilment as God uniquely invites us to serve Him in mission. The missionary, Elisabeth Elliot, makes this case for this happiness so well - “The world looks for happiness through self-assertion. The Christian knows that joy is found in self-abandonment.” “If a man will let himself be lost for My sake,” Jesus said, “he will find his true self.” Self-assertion is the trap of false happiness and will always abound when God is displaced by human desire.
The apostle Paul’s alternative answer is found in Philippians 4:11-13. Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things, I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Self - abandonment delivers us into God’s perspective. God’s perspective is found in his invitation to live our lives in partnership on His mission in our world! Psalm 16:11 You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Present and future joy are uniquely God’s to give and are found in His pathway of life. Living a life on mission is God’s pathway designed for our maturity in our participation in life’s journey.
In your pursuit of happiness in 2022, could I suggest that choosing to walk with God on His mission is God’s primary pathway to happiness and contentment. It is for this that you were made and the very reason you are the recipient of God's grace and salvation. “You are made for Mission” and have been equipped with gifts and talents that God can use to spark purpose for life in the year 2022 before you.
Romans 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Happy New Year