In 1776 the Declaration of Independence stated, 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. With this document, the United States was born and we have been pursuing happiness ever since. Pastor Ed made the point that happiness is tied to the truth and the ultimate truth is happiness is tied to the Creator. Clearly, this has not been self-evident as we have morphed from having the right to pursue happiness to happines being an entitlement. This sense of entitlement has its harmful consequences but an even more sinister perspective is one that was held long ago and is still held today by some calling themselves Christians.
It was and is believed that those who were “blessed” and enjoying the material comforts of living were those whom God rewarded. If one did not have such success it was the evidence that “sin” and disfavor with God caused the negative condition. Certainly we bear responsibility for our choices and reap consequences but establishing riches, success, fame, good fortune or even good health as the litmus test of being “right” with God is a very steep, slippery slope. Elitism, racism, ostracism, and much worse have been justified by this unrighteous precept. Jesus made clear in his parable in Luke 18:9-14 that relying on position, status, self-determined righteousness was a dead end and the Pharisee returned to his home that day unjustified. In contrast the “sinner” who accurately understood who God is and understood the only path to righteousness is being rightly related to God went home justified. True happiness is not a function of circumstances but a function of relationship with the Creator of the Universe – the One True God of Psalm 1.
The Psalmist paints the scenario of walking, standing and sitting. For those of us who call ourselves Christians the questions beckon; with whom are you walking, standing and sitting? Do we sit with those whose happiness depends upon circumstance and good fortune or do we walk with the One True God? Do those who stand with us know us as one whose happiness is an entitlement or a function of relationship with Jesus Christ? Do we evaluate people with a litmus test based on temporal matters or do we view others through the lens of grace? Do we look in the mirror and see that we are loved and treasured by the Creator of the Universe recognizing our happiness lies outside ourselves?