American history question: in which U.S. historical document do you find the phrase “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” – the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence?
It’s the Declaration of Independence, although a lot of us think of happiness as a constitutional right. Jefferson wrote the phrase “endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” We should take note of the fact that he didn’t say happiness; he said the pursuit of happiness. But we tend to gloss over “the pursuit of” and instead justify all kinds of activities, actions and opinions because we cling to this notion of happiness. “God just wants me to be happy,” is an often-expressed sentiment.
Actually, I think God just wants us to be faithful. And Jesus didn’t say “Follow me and you will be happy.” He talked more in terms of division, hardship, the hatred of others and death.
I think of that story set in the temple.
It’s the final week of Jesus. He’s entered Jerusalem on the back of a colt, to the sounds of the people’s hosannas. He knows where it’s all going to end, and where’s it’s all going to begin.
One of the first things he does is to go the temple and cause a riot.
“Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves” (Matthew 21:12, New International Version).
I’ve always focused on the specifics of the story – not the application. It’s about those thieving money changers, dove sellers and other merchants, working in collusion with greedy priests.
Well, maybe not.
In The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer draws a different picture.
“We must in our hearts live through Abraham’s harsh and bitter experiences if we would know the blessedness which follows them,” he writes. “The ancient curse will not go out painlessly; the tough old miser within us will not lie down and die obedient to our command. He must be torn out from our heart like a plant from the soil; he must be extracted in agony and blood like a tooth from the jaw. He must be expelled from our soul by violence as Christ expelled the money changers from the temple.”
Oh. It’s not about the money changers, or the temple, or the priests, or only about them.
No, that story has another point.
Led by Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter, we’re discussing Tozer’s The Pursuit of God. To see other posts, please visit Jason’s site, Connecting to Impact.