The Golden Globes were presented last night. The Revenant won for Best Motion Picture and Best Actor, Drama. The film tells the story of one man who overcomes enormous odds to avenge his son’s death. (For more on the film, see Ryan Denison’s review.)
The Martian won for Best Motion Picture and Best Actor, Musical or Comedy. It tells the story of one man who overcomes enormous odds to return to life on Earth. Steve Jobs won for Best Screenplay, Motion Picture. It tells the story of one man who overcomes enormous odds to create a company that revolutionized the computer industry. Jennifer Lawrence won Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture. She portrayed Joy Mangano, who overcame enormous odds to establish a business empire.
Do you see a pattern here?
The solitary hero who takes on the world is one of the most consistent themes in literature. From Odysseus in The Odyssey to Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, our culture is replete with stories of brave victors who overcame the odds to achieve historic victory.
Football fans marveled Saturday at Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who left the game against the Bengals with a separated shoulder but returned to lead his team to victory. Golfing fans marveled yesterday at Jordan Spieth, who became only the second player in history to shoot a score of thirty under par.
There’s something about such stories that stirs the soul. It’s as though the highest accomplishment in life is a historic achievement we attain by ourselves. But when we’re finished, when victory is won and history applauds, we’re left with an emptiness that success cannot fill. It’s as though we climbed to the sun but found it clay.
Here’s why: God will not let us mistake happiness for holiness.
We were made for intimate relationship with a holy God. Nothing less will satisfy our souls. For this reason, God created a world in which happiness is transient, so we will know that it’s not enough.
C. S. Lewis notes in The Problem of Pain: “The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world: but joy, pleasure, and merriment he has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bathe or a football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.”
Don’t settle for an inn today when you can be at home. Anything that impedes your intimacy with God is the enemy of joy. No matter how much happiness it offers, whatever hinders holiness is the adversary of your soul.
The best our fallen world can offer you is momentary fame. (Can you name a single winner of last year’s Golden Globes?) But every time you choose holiness, you invest in joy today and reward forever.
“You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). Will you answer God’s call today?