The foundation for Christian ethics is not obligation and duty, but rather the discovery and cultivation of true happiness. While the Judeo-Christian tradition certainly contains many precepts which are meant to mold and govern external action, such prescriptions are merely meant to be a preparation for the internal work of spiritual transformation.
When people read the New Testament in an attempt to discover an ethics based on obligation, they are eventually frustrated or led into error. The distinct ethics that was proposed by Jesus Christ is not such much a series of rules, but rather an invitation to a living relationship with God that renews from within. In this way, Christ’s teaching is an invitation to all people to participate in his relationship with the Father.
It is precisely in terms of our participation in the Divine which constitutes the foundation for authentic happiness. As we are stripped of the attachments to sin and self which destroy our capacity to receive God’s love, we discover the living vitality of the Holy Spirit operating within the depths of our redeemed humanity. Thus true happiness is not about having the externals of our life in order, but rather discovering God’s life and activity within.
This discovery of God’s presence then leads us to discern his will. His presence becomes a reference point by which we are able to weigh and carefully consider the rest of our interiority. In addition, it helps us to detect the disordered patterns of thinking, feeling, and desiring which choke our devotion, and ultimately it helps us to reject them.
Today, let us pursue true happiness by entering into the interior journey of prayer and meditation. Let us seek Christ in all things, so as to discover the still point of his love silently calling us to greater peace and stillness. Let us learn to enter into dialogue with him he longs to draw us into his relationship with the Father.