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Finding happiness.

The following is an address from Knox Church, Dunedin, given on Sunday June 25 2017

We all have our strategies for happiness which give rise to most of the major choices we make. These strategies have a number of things in common: 1) most of us are looking for one of 3 things in an attempt to make ourselves happy. These three things are a) security, b) affection and esteem; c) power and control. 2. These strategies are so deeply ingrained in us that they have become part of us and we are generally unconscious of them. 3. These strategies don't work, because they can't possibly work.

Security, affection and esteem, power and control are things we all need, and things our parents give to us, or not as the case may be, from childhood. We usually find ourselves with a felt deficiency in one or more of these areas, and faced with life's inevitable challenges and unhappiness, we make the reasonable connection and think that if we achieve that thing we feel we lack, we will be happy. So, we devise strategies for giving ourselves security, or affection, or control. And when the strategy doesn't deliver the expected result (it can't deliver. The problem is an inner wound, and it's not going to be so easily or quickly fixed) So we redouble our efforts, thinking we must need more of the thing which so singularly failed to deliver. These strategies, deep within us, are carried into our faith should we become Christian, and we will see our faith as a way to give ourselves security, esteem or power. This will influence how we see God, how we read the Bible, and how we worship.

It's these three things, security, esteem and control, that Jesus was tempted by. He declines, knowing that the pursuit of these is futile. He chooses instead to rely on God.

Jesus' initial Gospel is to think again and to know that the Kingdom of God (ie that which will truly deliver happiness) is at hand; that is, it is as far away as our own hand; that is, it is already present. What is required of us is to get out of our own way and realise that what we are seeking by way of the strategies which can't possibly work is already all around us. We are not capable of getting rid of such deep seated patterns under our own steam, but what is required of us is to allow God to do it for us: to sit, and as far as we are able, let go of our accustomed ways of thinking, and allow the God who is never absent to lead us where God knows we need to go. This is a large  part of what we are doing in our spiritual practice.


Kathryn Fernando said…
Thank you Kelvin. I listened to this last night and I find it extraordinarily helpful. A timely listen.

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