Pharrell is happy. He’s so happy that nothing is going to bring him down. We’re invited, just clap along if you know what happiness is to you. The video and thousands of viral imitations show this happiness is for everyone, rich or poor, young or old, American or Iranian, famous or obscure – just clap along if you know that happiness is the truth.
We love this. We want to be happy. We agree that any type of person anywhere should be able to be happy, regardless of nationality, race, age or circumstance. We are drawn together in something that’s bigger than ourselves, a connection with different people, we want to join in. And we know that the real world has plenty of bad news, so we resonate with the dream of moving above and beyond that.
The problem is that the strength of my happiness does not determine how long it will last - the source of that happiness does. It’s a nice idea that I could be so happy that nothing could bring me down, but I know that I could be brought down instantly by a variety of circumstances.
The source of our happiness is not irrelevant. What if I’m clapping along with “what happiness means to me” but the thing that makes me happy makes someone else unhappy. If that’s how happiness is defined, conflict is guaranteed. If happiness is “the truth” but we’re all defining our own truth, then nothing is true and happiness is an illusion.
Working up happiness in myself to transcend or overcome the pressures and difficulties of life is possible, temporarily, but it can’t be maintained without deluding myself. Christianity is often seen as this delusion - just a positive mental attitude, a belief and hope despite all the evidence.
The real Christian message is that happiness is possible because we were created for a perfectly happy life in relationship with God and others. The reason we don’t experience this is because sin fractures that happiness. We are separated from God and so always insecure. Selfish conflict with others means our “happiness” comes at the expense of someone else. But Jesus redefines this broken, self-centred view of happiness.
looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus laid down his own happiness for the sake of our eternal happiness, and that was a source of joy for him! Happiness is temporary in our sinful world and hearts but, through Jesus, joy is a possible reality. Deep joy from a restored relationship with God, the source of joy, driving out all the insecurities and threats to that joy. Joy in relationships found through serving rather than seeking to be served. The Christian life is a life of ongoing transformation by the Holy Spirit into Jesus’ likeness, with every increasing joy, until we spend eternity in perfect joy and perfect peace in God’s presence.
Jesus is the truth, and that truth can bring a happiness that is different, that is unaffected by the threats of the world. That’s the solid foundation of true joy and happiness. Clap along if that’s what you want to do...