The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:14
Duke University did a study on what makes people happy. The result was a checklist for happiness:
___ Absence of suspicion/resentment. Resisting the temptation to nurse a grudge or think the worst in people.
___ Not living in the past. Trying not to focus on past mistakes or pain, or thinking the best in your life is in past-tense.
___ Not trying to change things you can’t. Cooperating with life instead of getting frustrated by it.
___ Stay involved in life. Resisting the temptation to withdraw and become reclusive during tough times.
This is a great measuring stick. Odds are that if you find yourself in an unhappy stage, you can’t check one or more of the items on the list.
There is certainly an overlap between these checkpoints and the gospel. Grace covers item one. Hope, number two. Faith, number three. Love, number four.
Paul, though, would add a fifth requirement.
___ Be intrigued by Jesus.
Jesus comes to us as a mystery. He fascinates us in the beginning. But just when we think we have him pegged, he says or does something that makes us scratch our heads. We continue studying, praying, trusting, serving, failing, falling, forgiving. As we learn about life and bounce our learnings off his teachings and actions, we discover more about him. As we stay in fellowship with other mystery-seekers, we feel connected, emboldened, and purposed.
Paul summarized all this in a great phrase: “God’s upward call in Christ Jesus.”
We have enough downward calls as year flows into year. Our baser instincts, personally and nationally, pull us like gravity. Social media, anyone?
An upward call pushes against the pull. The higher we go the less the pull and the lighter we feel. We’re becoming the person Jesus has called us to be.
If we check Paul’s happiness item, we may find the other four take care of themselves.