9 October 2008

Walkin' back to happiness!

It’s 1961, and Helen Shapiro had the Number 1 hit “Walkin’ back to happiness”. It was a love song about the misery of loneliness, and the joyful thought of walkin’ back into the arms of the one she loved … “woopah oh yeah yeah!!”.

If only happiness was that simple to find, and to keep hold of. If the statistics are right, the least reliable place to find lasting happiness is in our relationships. One in three marriages ends in divorce. And the fall-out rate for co-habiting couples is even worse! Just when we fall in love and think we’ve found lasting happiness, it eludes us.

Is there any hope of finding real and lasting happiness? Well, listen to these words from a wise old fisherman called Peter : “Though you have not seen Jesus, you love him; even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” Wow! (1 Peter 1 v 8).

Real and lasting happiness is to be found in our relationships with Christ Jesus, whose love for us endures forever; and in the prospect of enjoying the inheritance that is kept in heaven by him for us.

There are two things about this inheritance that should make us particularly happy.

1. The inheritance is kept for us by God.

There must be some children of bankers who had fully expected to inherit a fortune when their parents popped their clogs. But for some, that is now an empty hope. All has been lost in the latest financial meltdown.

But Peter is able to reassure Christians that their inheritance is safe – it is “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade, kept in heaven for you.” (1 Peter 1 v 4).

Heaven is not subject to the uncertainties of this world’s economies. There is no-one who can catch God unawares or overpower him. What he holds in safekeeping for us is truly safe – “woopah oh yeah yeah!!”.

2. We are kept for our inheritance by God.

Too many times I’ve had to comfort a distraught widow. Their husband worked hard for 40 or 50 years, saving into a pension fund for their retirement. Their pension may have been safe, but they never thought they might be too old and unhealthy – or even die before they could enjoy it.

But Peter reassures Christians that not only is our inheritance kept safe for us by God, but also we are kept safe for our inheritance by God. He says “through faith you are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1 v 5).

That power is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, whom Peter saw with his own eyes – which is why he can write these things with such confidence.

God’s promise to us is that those who have put their faith in Jesus can definitely expect to be raised with him to enjoy the life he now enjoys, forever. That’s a good reason for constant, real, lasting happiness that non-one can take away from us.

Come and hear more of it from Helen Shapiro who is herself a follower of Jesus. She’ll be at St George’s on 25 October at 7.30pm. Entrance by ticket only.

Simon Smallwood
Vicar of St Georges