I am the Way: Finding the True Keys to Happiness through Jesus Christ
Have you bought the latest fitness DVD? Have you picked up the latest issue of Oprah Magazine? Have you purchased that magic weight-loss pill which gives you a wonderful figure and a perfect life? Lately, we have been taught that the keys to a happy life lie in riches, power, self-indulgence, magic products, and greed. If you take a look at MTV or even shows like Desperate Housewives, our society has become one where each person looks out for "Number 1". Why should I do ANYTHING if it doesn't benefit me? The road to being happy and successful is lined with products, gadgets, advice, and those we push aside to get what we want.
But where does that lead us? Ultimately, we notice that those who try to reach the highest for power, money, and fame often fall the hardest. Temporary joys, solutions, and luxuries become hurdles and road blocks to the true path of joy and contentment. This is where we, as Christians, were given the most wonderful blessing: the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, through His teachings, life, and resurrection, becomes the star that guides us to our true path of happiness and fulfillment.
We all have received advice or suggestions on how to live a better life. Time and time again, we are being sold or convinced about the quickest and most innovative techniques to "live life to the fullest." But, there always seems to be a new and improved product just around the corner. Unlike these trends and fads which come and go, Jesus offered us teachings which are eternal and are consistent throughout the Holy Scriptures. For example, Jesus did not just hand out a "magic pill" which made people feel better about themselves and others. But, He did teach us about how to love God and love one another. He did teach us how to take care for those who are less fortunate than we are. He also taught us how to pray and keep ourselves spiritually fit and healthy. There are no products on any "infomercial" which can offer us substantial results like the lessons of Jesus Christ.
There is nothing worse than taking advice from someone who does not live according to those same suggestions. Typically, we lose trust in that person and their advice. Christ, to use a cliché, practiced what He preached. Christ's actions, coupled with His teachings here on earth, are a clear picture of how each of us can obtain a life of peace, joy, and love. For instance, Christ taught us in the Gospel of Matthew that the greatest commandment is to love God and to love each other. Jesus Christ did not just teach this lesson, but He lived and preached by this lesson. This is why we read that Christ broke bread with the sinners as well as the righteous. This is why Christ performed many miracles before the eyes of the people. Furthermore, you see Jesus Christ embracing His mission to die on the cross, resurrect, and give us the gift of eternal life because of His love for the Father and all humankind.
Finally, Christ is our ultimate example of self-sacrifice and unconditional love through His crucifixion and resurrection. The fact of life is that nothing comes easily. Society is always trying to find the quickest, easiest way to make money, get a beautiful body, and cater to our own personal needs. Our culture teaches us that it's best to focus on what we want rather than do for others. But people quickly realize that all blessings come through sacrifice and hard work. The path to salvation paved by Christ's sacrifice. Jesus Christ did not just resurrect, but had to endure humiliation, torture, and betrayal. Christ's crucifixion and resurrection serves as our opportunity for inheriting eternal life and becomes the ultimate lesson in humility, obedience, and unconditional love of ALL humanity.
The bottom line is this: the way to happiness, and the way of Jesus Christ is love. Jesus Christ shows us the way through His light. It is out of love that Christ offered us the word of God and teachings of prayer, fasting, charity, and humility. It is love that Jesus Christ expressed through "walking the walk and talking the talk." In other words, Christ shows us the way to happiness and righteousness by living the way He preached. And of course, Christ shows us the way to glory and happiness through His crucifixion and resurrection. Jesus' sacrifice shows us what can be endured and achieved through love.
So what is our call to action? Finding our way in this life means to continue learning about Christ, as well as learning about other things. We are not perfect, and we have a great deal to learn about life. We can learn through the Holy Scripture, the writings of the Church Fathers, and attending the holy services of our Church.
Finding our way through Christ means we must not only call ourselves Christians, but we must BE Christians. We must not only tell people what we believe. Orthodox Christians must be a walking Gospel. Our actions should teach, inspire, and motivate as much as our words do. Therefore we can step up in our parishes, jobs, families, and schools to witness our faith, volunteer to work, teach Sunday School, or be a youth advisor.
In addition, we must take action and find our way through Christ by living for God and for each other rather than just for ourselves. We are a community of faithful, and we share this beautiful life with many other human beings. True success and acclaim comes through hard work, faith, and working for the good of others. So, we are called to find our way through Christ by being a servant rather than pushing our way to the top. We can serve our co-workers, our communities, our schools, and our families through our time, labor, talents, and resources.
The end result of finding the path of happiness through Jesus Christ becomes one of love and inclusiveness rather than the cutthroat world of selfishness and greed. We never need to follow movie stars, music stars, sports stars, or television stars if we follow our own star. Just as the wisemen were led to Christ, we should find our way through the darkness by the shining light of Jesus Christ.
Kokinos is a graduate of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology
and serves as Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries for the
Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Detroit.
For additional resources, visit the Youth Ministries website at www.youth.goarch.org.