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Happiness Under Attack


Today is the tenth anniversary of 9/11.  All this week, we have seen the stories of 9/11 being told on the news media, evoking different emotions in different people.  Some of you don’t want to see it, others feel very sad seeing it, and still others find a lot of questions in mind as you witness the extent of evil human beings could commit.  9/11 is a defining moment for this generation, just as the assassination of John F. Kennedy was the defining moment of the previous generation.

A couple of the slogans you hear frequently these days are “Never Forget” and “United We Stand.”  Have you ever thought about what these slogans really mean to you?  How do we never forget 9/11?  In other words, how do we remember this day so that it will honor the lives of the innocent victims, the lives of those who died heroically in the attempt the rescue those who were trapped in the towers—the firefighters, civic leaders and law enforcement officers, and the sacrifices of our service men and women in the subsequent wars against terrorism.


 

Most importantly, how do you think those who lost their lives on that day or because of that day would like us to remember them?  Do you think, those people, looking at us from the other side of eternity, would simply want us to read their names, say a prayer, offer them a wreath once a year?  Is that enough?

When, in my prayers and meditations, I stepped in their shoes and visited them in the other side of death and looked back at us, I felt that they want us to remember them for more than just their names and their sacrifices.  I believe they want us to remember this day in a way that we will use the experience to lift the human race into more spiritually mature beings, so that we will evolve into more Christ-like nature, further away from our fallen nature that allowed us commit such evil?  I strongly believe that those who die would want us to create a better future where our future generations can live safely and peacefully.

The other slogan that we frequently hear is “United We Stand.”  The question is stand against what?  A simple answer would be to stand against evil, to stand against terrorism and violence.  But I see something more important to stand against.  We must stand against the spirit behind the evil because the Bible says, “For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12) 

Until we defeat the spiritual forces of evil, the cycle of violence will continue over and over again.  It’s the spiritual warfare that we need to stand united to fight.

On the day after 9/11, my best friend called me from Taiwan.  We became friends since middle school.  He is a Muslim, but you all know that friendship transcends religious boundaries.  I shared Christ with him, but the Muslim community was so tightly knitted together that he had no courage to take the leap of faith.

When he called me on the day after 9/11, I expected a word of comfort.  But he said that he was sorry to hear about the tragedy, but that he was sure they had their own reason for doing that.  That was the last thing I wanted to hear—an excuse for the act of terrorism.  I grew up with a lot of Muslim friends, and we also have relatives that are Muslims.  So I am not saying this out of ignorance, but with due respect.  In the past decade after 9/11, most, if not all, we heard from the Muslim community was excuses for terrorism.  My friendship with my friend continues hoping that one day, God will open his eyes and I will hear a word of comfort from him denouncing terrorism, rather than excusing it.

I also received many calls from my friends around the world after 9/11.  Among those calls, the most frequently asked question was “Why did it happen?  Why?”  Some of those “why” questions were sincere discernment questions, but some of them actually wanted to hear from me saying that it was the sign of the end of the world.  But, I reminded them that my gift and calling is not to proclaim the end of the world.  My gift and calling is to proclaim the Kingdom of God both for here and now and for eternity.  My gift is not to deliver the bad news, but the good news.  That’s what Jesus came to proclaim and I am following his steps.

Here is why 9/11 happened.  In the physical world, it was freedom under attack.  That’s why those freedom lovers around the world leaned their hearts toward us with their support.  America is the symbol of freedom and when America is shaken, the heart of every freedom lover in the world is shaken. 

But, those who called me were not asking me a worldly question.  Because I am a pastor, they were seeking a spiritual answer.  Here is what happened in the spiritual world on 9/11.  It was happiness under attack!

In fact, happiness has been under attack not since 9/11, it has been under attack since the beginning of human history.  You know the Genesis story—Cain killed his brother Abel and became the first murderer in human history.  Why did Cain killed Abel?  The underlying reason is the miserable guy Cain wanted to kill the happy Abel.  It was the first instance of happiness under attack in human history.

Miserable people want you to be miserable.  In our society if you are happy, you are venerable for attack.  You can try it for experiment—by the way I am talking about adults, not children.  If you appear sad and tell people about how miserable your life is, or how your spouse is treating you unfairly, you will find a lot of people huddling around you to comfort you and give you advice.  But, if you show up as a happy person and tell them how blessed and successful you are, you will notice that people begin to back off from you, or at least after they superficially rejoice with you.  Just try it out, if you don’t believe me.  As a result our society ends up nurturing a lot of whiners and miserable people because it’s lonely to be happy!

Happiness is not just under attacked by violence like that of 9/11.  It’s also under attack in man subtle ways.  Sometimes, people might come to you and tell you a gossip, as if they were informing you with some important news, saying something like, “You know what, miss so and so doesn’t like what you are doing.”  In most cases like that the gossiper is not really giving you a warning.  The implication is, “I don’t like to see you happy.  So I am telling you a bad news so that you will stop being happy.”  It is your happiness under attack, in a subtle and slimy way.  This goes all the way back to Genesis.  Why do you think the Devil came to tempt Eve and Adam, whispering to them a gossip that God didn’t want them to become wise.  It was obviously because the devil didn’t want to see these young couple living happily ever after in the Garden of Eden.  Happiness has been under attack from the foundation of the world.

Jesus taught us in the eighth beatitude that, “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”  (Matt. 5:11-12)

A lot of people don’t understand why Jesus wants us to rejoice while we are being attacked by evil.  It is because it is our happiness that was really under attack.  The moment you let go of your happiness, you lose!  That’s why Jesus wants you to rejoice, the Apostle Paul wants you to rejoice—he himself didn’t stop rejoicing even when he was in prison; Peter wants you to rejoice—just read the First Letter of Peter.  John wants you to rejoice.  As long as you can keep rejoicing, you will ultimately win the spiritual warfare. 

So God wants you to defend your happiness with your life.  You can afford to lose everything in your life, but you can’t afford to lose happiness. You can afford to lose your wealth, but you can’t afford to lose your happiness.  You can even afford to lose your health, but you can’t afford to lose happiness.  You can afford you lose your friends and relatives, but you can’t afford to lose your happiness.  Defend your happiness with your life, and let me tell you why.  It’s because happiness is the presence of the Reign of God.  The moment you lose happiness, you lose the presence of God.  You can’t afford it! 

King David said, “In your (God’s) presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Ps. 16:11)  You need to memorize this verse if you haven’t done so.

Dare you leave God’s presence because when you lose his presence you lose happiness, and in the same way when you lose happiness, you lose his presence! 

You can’t afford to lose happiness.  That’s why Jesus said, “Rejoice, even when you are attacked by evil!” because it is not you that are being attacked.  It is happiness under attack.  The Devil is always trying to knock you out of God presence.  If you lose God’s presence and happiness, nothing matters anymore!

So let us all be able to be “United We Stand” defending happiness.  This is what the church is for.  We are here together to help one another defend our happiness.  The world outside is too negative, and we need to band together to stay positive.  Last week, we all have heard from Chris sharing her appreciation of this church family because we all surrounded her with prayers and visitations to defend her happiness which was under attack when she was informed that she had a large brain tumor in her head.  Don’t you think we can do it for everyone?

Let us make a commitment today to be “United We Stand” to defend each other’s happiness because that’s the best way to remember those who die on this day and those who died because of this day.  Most importantly, it is Jesus’ command for us to defend our happiness as we journey through this fallen world.  Amen!

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Cultivate Your Life

Only a cultivated life becomes fruitful, only a fruitful life glorifies God, and only a God-glorifying life is worth living!" ~ Sam Stone

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