Our media-driven culture has redefined the pursuit of happiness. The American Dream—which used to consist of a loving family, a nice house, a white picket fence—now includes instant fame, endless riches, easy romance, and the blank-check promise that anyone can achieve his or her dreams. Reality television and the rise of the Internet are perhaps somewhat to blame for this phenomenon. But ultimately the problem lies in the human heart.
We were created to long for satisfaction, fulfillment, and joy, and those desires are good in and of themselves. But our fallen world tries to meet those desires through money, romance, fame, and other earthly pleasures. Yet temporal things can never bring lasting satisfaction to a heart that was created to find its ultimate joy in God.
King Solomon learned that lesson the hard way. After experimenting with everything the world could offer, Solomon finally concluded it was all vanity, and that without God, no one can have true enjoyment (Ecclesiastes 2:25-26, 11:9, 12:13-14).
Christians should not allow entertainment to define their understanding of happiness, romance, modesty, masculinity, success, fulfillment, justice, or anything else. The Word and the Spirit should shape our worldview, not Hollywood.
Sadly, however, many Christians today are more affected by the movies they watch than the sermons they hear. They show more enthusiasm for video games or televised sporting events than they do for pursuing Christlikeness. They fill their minds with the sounds of talk radio or the latest hit songs rather than letting the Word of God richly dwell within them. Deep down, they enjoy exploring the pleasures of the world—even if only vicariously—as they watch actors play out scenes in which sinful pursuits are seemingly fulfilled with little or no consequences. The irony is, of course, that in real life those same actors are just as miserable as everyone else—a sobering reality that keeps supermarket tabloids in business.
Our priorities, passions, plans, and pursuits must be grounded in our love for Jesus Christ. Only in Him can we find true satisfaction (cf. Matthew 11:28, John 7:37). In serving Him we can lay up eternal treasure (Matthew 6:20). In pleasing and glorifying Him we fulfill life’s greatest purpose (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:9). He is to be the object of our affections, ambitions, and hopes (cf. Romans 14:7-8, Galatians 2:20, Philippians 1:20-21).
As the author of Hebrews exhorted his readers,
Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)