Happiness Without Faith

by Doy Moyer

“Since I’ve given up my faith, I’m now happy and at peace.” This is a common type of statement we see from those who walk away from the Lord. It seems counter to the idea that true happiness and peace are found in Christ. I do not doubt that one who leaves the Lord feels happy. The question is, why?

I believe at least one reason lies in the basic issue that we all face in serving the Lord: will I deny myself to please Him or will I deny Him to please myself (Luke 9:23-26)? If I do not feel the need to serve Jesus, then I will not have to fight the dissonance of trying to deny myself while, at the same time, dealing with the difficult temptation of wanting to please myself. I don’t often feel very happy when I have to deny myself; it’s hard and frustrating at times. If I remove that fight from my life by removing Jesus, then I no longer have to grapple with giving up what pleases me for what pleases Him. I can be happy … in one sense.

But this gets to the basic issue of what happiness is about. One who has quit the Lord feels happy, but it’s a happiness in the moment, not a happiness in a future hope. It’s a peace that comes from no longer fighting the difficulty of self-denial, not a peace found in forgiveness and eternal rest. The road of giving up the Lord comes at a cost. It trades momentary happiness for a living hope.

Don’t buy into the passing pleasure angle here. The world says we have to be happy, but it’s a very narrow consideration. Recall the choice made by Moses: “By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:24-25). Moses could have been happy by enjoying the pleasures of sin, but he knew these were fleeting and temporary. Instead, he chose to look beyond the here and now to the reward that would later come (Hebrews 11:26).

Therein lies the choice for all of us. You can find a measure of pleasure and happiness by quitting the Lord. But you also need to know the true difference between the type of happiness you are banking your life on. The happiness found in Christ is not the momentary type, but that found in purpose, hope, and life. What kind of happiness are you willing to give your soul to? Is it worth it?

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