Nestled in the rural Perthshire market town of Blairgowrie, BEChurch recently invited Solas to come and help them with an outreach event at one of their popular men’s curry nights at a hotel in the town centre. After a traditional ‘curry and a pint’, Andy Bannister spoke to the audience of men on the ever-pressing issue, ‘The Problem of Happiness’. Everybody yearns for happiness, peace and security, yet huge numbers of people find these goals frustratingly elusive.
Andy’s talk explored four levels of happiness. The first level is animal happiness. This is basically the brief, transitory pleasure we experience when basic human needs are met, and derives from things such as food or sex. (But human beings are the only animals that abuse food and sex).
The second level of happiness is excelling at a skill. This kind of happiness can come from success in the workplace, or at university, or at playing a sport (but it relies on a sense of constantly outperforming other people and thus leads to constant anxiety, as you’re always at risk of being out-performed).
The third level of happiness comes through living for others. This typically involves the sacrifices of parenthood, or of charitable work. (But eventually those you’re helping will no longer need you—and further more, as the famous atheist philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche remarked, trying to be happy by helping others is just selfishness in disguise, as you’re not helping others, you’re helping yourself).
And so we hit the problem of happiness: each “level” ultimately disappoints us and so people move up a level, to try to find true happiness, only to find that level fails too. This is why so many people end up sad, anxious, disappointed, with a sense that, in the words of the famous song by U2, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for”.
Andy concluded that the inadequacies of the first three levels of happiness should drive us to explore Happiness Level 4—which requires discovering something that is genuinely bigger than we are. Andy shared part of his testimony, of how as a young man he had failed to find true happiness and security, despite doing well at work, academically and elsewhere. It was only when he discovered what it meant to find his true identity and security in Jesus, Andy explained, that he finally found true happiness. And this was precisely what Jesus was talking about when he said: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. “ (John 10:10).
BEChurch pastor, Derek Johnston said, “Thursday went well. We were pleased that those who said they would come did so, especially those who have yet to fully commit themselves to Christ. I think one of the plus points of the evening is seeing that when folks are confident of the quality of presentation they are going to hear they are far more likely to invite their friends.”
Many Christians had brought non-Christian friends to the event and so the talk was followed by a lively Q&A, as people dug into more deeply what Andy had shared.
If we can help your church run an outreach event in your town, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us here.