God wants you to be happy. Of course, the word “happiness” is sometimes used in a very superficial sense. Maybe the word “joy” is better, for it suggests something deeper. The Gospel never promises that a Christian will be free from the difficulties of this world. Nobody can ever promise you that, for that is not the way life is. But Jesus says, “These things have I spoken unto you . . . that your joy might be full” (John 15:11). He wants people to live joyously.
Jesus Christ wants you to be free from your fears, free from your sins, free from your weaknesses, free from your defeats. He wants you to live. “I am come that they might have life,” he said, “and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
Many good, upright people tell me they have never found the joy and exuberance and power Christianity offers to us all. They ask why this is. They ask, “Shouldn’t good people be happy people?” Yes, they should be. But there is no guarantee that they will be, because respectability and decency are not enough. If the real power and joy Jesus offered us through his teachings is to be yours and mine, we must penetrate to the essence. We must go beneath mere ethical goodness to the throbbing, life-changing force which is there. Otherwise we can live all our lives being scrupulously good people but never know this deep, abiding joy.
So don’t be a nominal Christian. Penetrate the essence and you’ll find a religion not of formality but of power. You are a child of God, and spiritual power is available for you! To have it, love God. To have it, love Jesus. To have it, love people. It is a trinity of love: God, Jesus, people. Cultivate redemptive love, the kind of love that goes out to change people’s lives and to change the world. The person who practices redemptive love finds it for himself and contributes it to everybody else.
Are good people happy people? They can be. They’re on the way to being. They’ve made the start. They’ve gone down the road a long way, but they’ll not have the power in religion that brings deep joy until they penetrate the essence. Let us go deeper through self-surrender, through self-giving, through desire, through earnestness, until the glory bursts upon us and true happiness surges up and fills our lives.