Augustine understood Scripture’s presentation of God as One so glorious that to experience Him is to enjoy Him. As he said in his classic quote that I cited at the end of my last post, God Himself is the believer’s joy. Now, no one will dispute that it is the Christian’s duty to pursue God and be devoted to glorifying Him in all we do. But because God Himself is our joy—because our joy is sought and found in God Himself—it is also the Christian’s duty to pursue his own greatest happiness. Augustine goes so far as to define a Christian as one who relentlessly pursues the joyful blessings of God’s promises:
He who does not think of the world to come, he who is a Christian for any other reason than that he may receive God’s ultimate promises, is not yet a Christian. (Quoted in Chadwick, Augustine: A Very Short Introduction, 59.)
And what is God’s ultimate promise? None other than the gift of Himself. His promise is that all who trust in Christ for righteousness will have God for their God (1 Pet 3:18), and that He will dwell among them and that they will be His people (Rev 22:3–4). According to Augustine, following the Word of God, the definition of being a Christian is to shape your entire life around pursuing your greatest benefit—your greatest joy, your greatest happiness—in Christ.
We are all pursuing satisfaction. All of us are hardwired to engage in the pursuit of happiness. The question is: In what, precisely, are you pursuing it? Are you doing your delightful duty of pursuing your greatest happiness? Or are you content to settle for lesser pleasures that can never truly satisfy you?
“Jesus answered and said to her,
‘Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again;
but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst;
but the water that I will give him
will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.’”
- John 4:13-14 -
“Now on the last day, the great day of the feast,
Jesus stood and cried out, saying,
‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.’”
- John 7:37 -
“As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness;
I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake.
- Psalm 17:15 -