We Want Happiness and Significance
Every human is born with a desire for happiness and significance. Some may argue against this, but the majority I think would agree.
Many of the things we do each day prove that we are seeking some kind of personal pleasure and significance. For example, why do you go to ________ (insert restaurant) on your lunch break? Because, not only does eating food give you pleasure, but this particular restaurant has really tasty food that makes you happy. And for another example, why do you feel good when the photo you posted on Instagram gets a ton of likes? Because you experience a kind of recognition that you interpret as, “I must be significant.”
Born this Way
Okay, so why do we desire happiness and significance? Because it was the way we were made.
God, who made every human being in his image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27), gave us this deep desire for joy and glory (or, happiness and significance). Not only did he give us these desires, but he also provided the way to fulfill them.
The Great Lie
You see, one of the greatest downfalls of humanity is that they constantly try and achieve happiness and significance in every way but God’s way.
Because of the sin we all inherited from the Fall (Genesis 3 and Romans 5:12), we are all born with a sinful nature (Psalm 51:5). The sin in our lives, increased by the influence of the enemy, causes a distortion in our desire for joy and glory. We begin to think and believe that happiness is found in worldly things (like partying, money, sex, travelling, toys, etc.) and that significance is found in popularity and public recognition (like gaining more followers on social media, being asked to speak at events, receiving praise from your work, etc.).
Sure, worldly things, popularity and recognition do bring a kind of happiness and significance, but it never lasts – even though the enemy will always deceive us into thinking so. And the truth is, there are millions of people who have figured this out – that seeking for true happiness and significance on earth is worthless. Or, as one writer in the Bible puts it, a “striving after wind.” (Ecclesiastes 1:14) Maybe you’ve come to this understanding.
So, where is true happiness and significance found? Well, I believe it’s found in God’s way.
God’s way for us to fulfill our desires of receiving joy and glory are found in the gospel of his Son. True happiness is not about the experiences and accumulation of things on earth, but rather relationship – relationship with the God of the Bible. And the gospel is God’s way of bringing us back into relationship with him. A genuine relationship with God brings not only an infinite wealth of joy to the human, but it lasts for eternity.
And true significance is not found in the praises of other humans, but in beholding the glory (or significance) of God. When we reflect God perfectly – and according to Genesis 1:26-27, that’s what we were made to do – we experience a true significance. And the only way we can begin the journey towards reflecting God perfectly is if we are gifted with the grace of God found in the gospel to do so.
In consideration of these things, let us come to the humble understanding that the striving after worldly things, popularity and recognition for both happiness and significance is stupid – a “striving after wind.” What’s not stupid, however, is striving after God in the strength of God (the gospel).
Friend – believer or skeptic – true happiness and significance is out there. It’s just not in anything man has made – which includes a multitude of philosophies and religions. True happiness and significance is only found in the gospel of God. So, seek him.
This article was originally posted on August 23rd, 2017. It’s related to this conversation we had with Jonathan Parnell.
 If you’re wanting to seek God more, read the gospel of Mark. It’s a short book in the Bible that takes you through Jesus’ life. Then read Romans. It’s a letter that Paul (a Christian leader from the first century) wrote to a church in Rome that explains the gospel well. Don’t be afraid to talk with a pastor if you need help in understanding anything you read.