Jesus Never Wanted Us To Be Happy - He Wanted More Than That

Ryan Fan if you’re not a Christian, it’s a common misconception that being a Christian means that you’re always happy, because that’s what Jesus wanted you to do.

Here’s a newsflash: Jesus never wanted us to be happy. He never said that.

Let it be clear that he never wanted us to be unhappy either, but that happiness was never what Jesus focused on.

I mean this as a message for everyone who is using religion and Christianity to profit and propagate Prosperity Gospel, the false preaching that Christianity is meant to bring wealth and happiness. It’s just not true. If you believe in Jesus, the chances are that your day-to-day life isn’t going to change that much.

I became a Christian when I was 20, and do you know what my life looked like, before and after becoming a Christian? The same — the exact same. I might have had a more mature outlook on my life experiences and spent more time going to church and reading the Bible, but my life was the exact same. I studied, went to practice, and hung out with my friends every single day.

And I was still unhappy. Part of me felt like there was something wrong with me for not being happy as soon as I became a Christian, but the respected pastors and friends I talked with quickly dispelled that myth.

You, like me, might have once hated Christianity. You might have gone to a church that made you feel isolated, and you might have had parents or friends that tried to shame you and force you into faith. These are things that a lot of people have gone through and which lend evidence to the fact that the worst evidence for Christ’s miracles are, well, Christians who act in the name of Christ.

The Bible offers joy, not happiness. Happiness comes from the Latin word ​hap,​ which means luck. So, being happy means that you’re lucky. Being prosperous means that you’re lucky, that things are just falling into place and the dice are rolling in your favor.

And you know how many of us are lucky enough to be happy? Not many. Sure, most of us are lucky if we had both parents in our lives, a roof over our heads, and food on our plates. But expecting to be happy all the time completely neglects the fact that life is pretty damn hard. There are times you don’t even know if you can make it to the next day.

You will be rejected. You will fail. You will go through hardships and struggles, and you will never be 100% happy. You are going to suffer, and you’re going to suffer ​a lot.

All of this was reflected in Jesus’s life, when his friend Peter denied him, he accepted it and let him do it. When his friend Judas betrayed him, he accepted it and let him do it. When the Romans wanted to nail him to a cross, he accepted it and let them do it.

Look, this doesn’t mean that you should be a doormat and simply let things just happen to you. But if you’re unhappy, it means that what you’re going through is normal and doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. Sure, if you can’t function on a daily basis because of how you feel, reach out. Look for help.

But just because Jesus was God, didn’t mean he didn’t suffer. Jesus knew something that we often neglect these days: life sucks. It sucks almost all the time, save for a few redemptive and savoring moments. Why do you think people obsess so much about the afterlife and heaven and hell? The truth is that after we’re older than, like, 10-years-old, we start to see that the world wasn’t as rosy as we wanted it to be.

Jesus never said don’t be happy, but he never said to be happy either. When he said to love your neighbor, that meant that even if you don’t like someone and are having a horrible day, it’s still on you to treat people with respect and like you would want to be treated.

You’re not going to feel fulfilled about yourself by seeking happiness, making money or having people like you — no, you feel fulfilled by you, and if you believe in God, you feel fulfilled by God and acting like a follower of God. No person feels good all the time. Wake up even the most devout Christian after 2 hours of sleep and it’s likely that they’re as cranky as you are after a bad day of work, but the point of faith is that you get something a lot greater than happiness.

Some Christians focus a lot on eternal life, and maybe my view is short-sighted, but I don’t think that much about the afterlife. The greater thing you get than happiness is, well, a feeling of transcendent meaning and purpose knowing that you gave everything you could to others even when you didn’t feel like it.

Do you want me to be honest? As an inner-city special ed teacher, in middle school, I don’t always like my job in the moment. I always feel like a horrible teacher. I’m very cynical and have made some pretty dark jokes at times, but I always leave the building and work feeling like I gave everything I could on that day.

And perhaps that’s how we should focus on feeling every single day — like we did our best and gave it our all, even if we felt like it wasn’t enough to make us happy. That’s how we’re going to find meaning above happiness.

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Originally published at Publishous on May 17, 2020.

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Believer, Baltimore City special ed teacher, and 2:40 marathon runner. Diehard fan of "The Wire," God's gift to the Earth. Support me:

Baltimore, MD

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