One of the reasons I became a Christian was so I could allow God to make all my dreams come true, complete with fireworks over the Disney castle at the end of every day, all set to a Maroon 5 love song.
Then discouragement hit.
And 30 pounds.
And the end of Seinfeld.
“I became a Christian,” I thought. “Why am I not happy?”
Was something wrong with me? Did I not have enough faith?
Turns out I wasn’t the only one disappointed.
In 1902 William James published his landmark book The Varieties of Religious Experience. It was the first exhaustive study ever performed on the psychology of religious behavior. His goal was simple: to share what he thought were the inner psychological motivations for why religious people act the way they do.
In that study James observed:
If we were to ask the question: “What is human life’s chief concern?” one of the answers we should receive would be: “It is happiness.” How to gain, how to keep, how to recover happiness, is in fact for most men at all times the secret motive of all they do, and of all they are willing to endure.
Later in the passage he concluded:
With such relations between religion and happiness, it is perhaps not surprising that men come to regard the happiness which a religious belief affords as a proof of its truth. If a creed makes a man feel happy, he almost inevitably adopts it.
That, unfortunately, was my problem.
My secret motive for becoming a Christian was I wanted to be happy.
Fortunately, even though I wasn’t aware of it when I signed on the dotted line to be a Christ follower, God had a more important plan for my life.
Do you know what it is?
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