Your Best Life?

There is a Christianity that tells us God plans to save us from our sins: To heal our passions, conform our character to His, and make us capable of union with Him. And there is a Christianity that tells us God wants you to be happy in this life. These two Christianities are mutually exclusive.

There are certainly times of happiness for the disciple of Christ – and at least seeds of joy which can be brought to bloom through the practice of gratefulness, humility, and love. But in 21st-century America, perhaps Christianity’s most counter-cultural message is that God isn’t really interested in making you happy; the Gospel is about the Kingdom of God, not about you, and Christ unconditionally promises His people, “In this world you will have tribulation.” (John 16:33)

Some barely-connected quotes come to mind:

“God has one Son without sin but none without suffering.”
— Saint Augustine of Canterbury, succinctly summarizing Hebrews 12

“Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”
— from “The Princess Bride”

“Why do you increase your bonds? Take hold of your life before your light grows dark and you seek help and do not find it. This life has been given to you for repentance; do not waste it in vain pursuits.”
—Saint Isaac the Syrian

“They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more.”
—from “Waiting for Godot”

“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.”
—1 Corinthians 15:19

“These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
— John 16:33