by Rayola Kelley
Have you noticed how lost people appear to be, even Christians? There seems to be no real purpose or direction to their lives. Many are aimlessly wandering from one illusive so-called “source of happiness” to the next.
The search goes on either in worldly pleasures or in materialism. Wandering souls become lost in entertainment and games or are caught up with some noteworthy cause. Each illusive pursuit leads to the same dead-end realization that everything tangible is vanity and has no eternal significance.
Sadly, many Christians are looking to the same illusive sources for happiness along with religious pursuits that only result in emptiness. This leads to frustration, anger and disappointment with the Christian life, causing some to walk away from God in utter unbelief and despair.
The question is how do searching hearts find satisfaction in their lives? The answer begins with truth.
The truth is that if a Christian life lacks satisfaction, it is because the believer is full of empty things.
What constitute empty things? According to the book of Ecclesiastes, everything that is not of, for or from the hand of God. For example, the world is vanity; working to assure future security is temporary; acquiring material wealth is empty and earthly pleasure superficial.
And in the scheme of eternity, empty things become more mocking and empty as searching hearts begin to question the purpose for existing. This is when religion comes onto the scheme of things for the seeking Christian.
To find purpose many Christians look to ministry, good deeds or church activities to fill up their lives, only to become burned out or disillusioned from the constant demands and endless needs of hurting and lost people. In the end, even religious activities leave vacant spots in believers’ lives.
Life is hard enough in light of its worldly pursuits but to also discover that even religious activity can be nothing more than vanity often causes depression. To a struggling heart, this type of vanity can make life a source of mockery.
It is at this type of crossroad that a searching heart can find a place of satisfaction, contentment and rest. The place is a Person by the name of Jesus Christ.
Most Christians know that Jesus is the only source of happiness, but in spite of this knowledge some Christians never experience satisfaction? Why?
The reasons for not experiencing satisfaction are few and the solution always the same but somehow Christians continue to miss it. For those with a searching heart, stop and listen to what the Spirit is really saying. His gentle call has never changed and His power to change our lives is as real and far-reaching as it was in creation in Genesis 1.
The main reason many fail to embrace the solution is because self is in the way. The “old man” in each of us believes that he has a right to self, a right to live it on his own terms. Self is all encompassing because it is subject to the insatiable lusts of the world but is empty because it lacks substance. It is arrogant in nature and believes that it deserves the best; therefore, it is demanding and relentless in all self-serving pursuits.
Jesus stated that a person must deny the right to SELF and pick up his or her cross (die) and follow Him into real life (Matthew 16:25).
Many Christians are attracted to the cross and come to it to encounter some type of religious experience but not to die to self. As a result, many begin a pseudo Christian walk that lacks power because self continues to reign behind a religious cloak instead of becoming identified with the resting-place, Jesus Christ.
Another obstacle standing in front of some Christians is the world. It is hard not to fall in love with this world and pursue after all of its attractions. But such a love will cause Christians to grow cold in their love for Jesus. This coldness will cause them to become religious while seeking warmth in the different activities of the world.
This is why Jesus said: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul” (Matthew 16:26)? As a result, the Apostle Paul said the world was crucified unto him and he unto the world (Galatians 6:14).
The final reason some Christians miss the source and purpose of the Christian life is because of self-glorification. It is hard for even Christians who have declared that they have come to the cross of Jesus to grasp the ultimate message of the cross.
The cross of Christ makes one statement that without the intervention of God, man would have remained miserably lost. The route Jesus traveled to Calvary exposed the stiff-neckedness of man towards God’s sovereignty. His humiliation on the cross revealed the spiritual nakedness of every man born into the Adamic race. His cry in the midst of the darkness showed the depth of the darkness of man’s soul and the separation between man and His Creator. His death on the cross spoke of the consequences that plagued man since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden.
Many, including some Christians, want to believe that there is some good in man outside of Christ. In fact, they seek for it, rejoice when they think they get glimpses of it and exalt it as they see a possible glimmer of hope that there is some good in man after all.
The question is why is it so important for man to find good in mankind apart from God? There are a couple of reasons.
1) Man wants to believe there is something redeemable in mankind. This allows him to believe that his life will be judged according to what he does and not who he is. Such a concept makes him feel good about self! He therefore can overlook erroneous beliefs in others, show tolerance towards sin and be self-serving in his life before God and still receive rewards. After all, if he does good here and there, God will notice and allow for wrong dispositions and actions. But if man is judged on his fallen condition then there will be no self-glorification. Man must accept God’s evaluation of him as well as His provision of Jesus which will place him at the base of the cross crying out for mercy, seeking forgiveness and embracing grace in brokenness and humility.
2) The second reason comes down to personal rights. People have high opinions of themselves and believe that they deserve the best in life. This high opinion of self is nothing more than a delusion but it causes people to believe they have a right to happiness (according to their definition). If this happiness eludes them, they actually become angry with God.
The idea that there is nothing redeemable in man takes away his personal rights to pursue or expect happiness according to his own selfish whims. It brings him face to face with the grace of God.
Because of man’s high opinion of self he has made the grace of God into a cheap commodity that is often abused and misused as he justifies compromise and sin at its expense.
The grace of God can only be properly embraced when a person recognizes there is nothing redeemable in him or her and the only virtue that can reach beyond such a devastating gap is God’s grace. It can’t be earned but it will require a response of faith that will be needy and humble in attitude and obedient in action.
Are you lost or empty? Are you searching? Do not search any farther than the Person of Jesus. He is all in all, the Prince of Peace, the Giver of Living Water and the Eternal Bread from heaven. Jesus is the one who brings satisfaction to the hungry soul and peace to the weary mind.
Won’t you stop and hear what the Spirit is saying to you and every weary sojourner: “Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” Revelation 22:17. Just come and partake of all that God has for you and know the complete satisfaction found in Jesus Christ.