April 1, 2018
Yale University’s most popular class in its 316-year history is PSYC 157: Psychology and the Good Life. Nearly one-fourth of Yale undergraduates registered for it. The course “tries to teach students how to lead a happier, more satisfying life.” Interestingly, a 2013 report by the Yale College Council found that “more than half of undergraduates sought mental health care from the university” while enrolled because they are “anxious, stressed, unhappy, numb.” The professor teaches that the things undergraduates most associate with achieving happiness—a high grade, a prestigious internship, a good-paying job—do not increase happiness at all.
A recent Gallup survey examined how “people feel in their day-to-day lives across key dimensions of well-being, including physical health and wellness; having supportive personal and family relationships; financial and economic security; having a sense of purpose; and connection to one’s community.” The overall results “show a nation where well-being is in sharp decline.” Translation: people are not happy.
Jesus made many promises to His followers, but a happy life was not one of them. Those who convey a “health and wealth” or “prosperity” gospel do not convey the gospel of Jesus at all. But that does not mean that the “anxious, stressed, unhappy” undergrads—not to mention the sweeping lack of well-being across our nation—isn’t a Jesus issue. It is.
Jim White writes that those of us who are followers of Jesus are to embrace the conviction that every life on this planet, no matter what the circumstances of their life might be, would be better if it had Christ at the center of it. Every life would be better if it could experience real liberation from guilt and shame that comes from the grace Christ offers and, through that, experience the forgiveness of sin. Every life would be better with a deep and clear sense of Godly purpose in navigating what’s right and wrong, true and false, good and bad. Every life would be better with the Holy Spirit transforming them from the inside out into someone who is more loving, more joyful, more peaceful, more patient, more kind, more good, more faithful, more gentle and more self-controlled. Every life would be better experiencing the new community Christ came to establish where you can love and be loved, know and be known, serve and be served, celebrate and be celebrated.
JESUS 101 is a course worth taking that would move improve the well-being of all of our lives.