Summary: We have got to overcome our merely dutiful approach to God. You cannot cultivate a hunger for God born of duty apart from desire.
Last couple weeks considering our expectations .. begin with
Children’s letters to God
A couple weeks ago… began our time together in the new year asking…”What are YOU expecting..? This morning..
> “What do you WANT from God?
> I believe every one of us in this room… indeed every human soul who ever existed… has been shaped to long for God. The Bible tells us that we have fallen from the natural relationship we were created with…. as humanity sought freedom / autonomy from God. As a result, we may avoid God out of the fear born of our shame and sin… ignorance… or pride…but if we understand well what we really want, we will discover a longing to be connected to God above all else.
Most of us have a sense of what it means to hunger for God. The Vineyard was birthed in a spirit of healthy hunger … a hunger to really know God above all else. This is what underlies our value of worship as means to enjoy His presence. Perhaps the most critical values we state as the Vineyard – Westside community is that we would seek to be…
“A church where our worship of God remains dynamic and defining of all we are.
…..where our lives are becoming increasingly centered and satisfied in God’s love”
But most of us also sense how easily such passion can wane. As Jesus said…
“… the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it (the seeds God plants) unfruitful.” Mark 4:19
> Therefore, the challenge we face in staying connected to God involves staying connected to our most fundamental longings. We are so over stimulated by our outer senses that we can hardly hear our inner soul.
· “The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life, but that it bothers him less and less.” – Vaclav Havel, Letters to Olga
Of course we do see a spiritual hunger at work today, but far too easily it settles for a SENSE of transcendence, without pursuing the very SUBSTANCE which God provides.
· “Man has always lost his way. He has been a tramp ever since Eden; but he always knew, or thought he knew, what he was looking for…. For the first time in history he begins to really doubt the object of his wanderings on earth. He has always lost his way; but now he has lost his address.” – G.K. Chesterton
· > When we lose a connection to our deepest longings… we lose our address… for it is such longings that will lead us home.
Christ comes to offer good news….
‘On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." John 7:37-38 (NIV)
“If anyone is thirsty….” …. And of course Jesus would speak of hunger in a similar way… and then proclaim to offer the very bread of life.
If anyone is thirsty… hungry… if such senses are stirred… then come to Him and discover satisfaction.
> It all begins with thirst…hunger… like our bodies realization that it needs something it isn’t getting. If we want to stay connected to God… we must stay hungry for the longings of our soul… the ultimate longings. To hunger for God involves staying connected to the hunger in our soul.
Here may feel a dilemma. If we feel a loss which we long for God to satisfy… we may fear allowing ourselves to feel such needs… fearing that such a focus will only lead to despair. “I don’t want to get any more in touch with the emptiness in my life… dark and depressing.” “If I want to be happy I should avoid what makes me feel sad.”
> Jesus has no intention of leaving us in despair… he is simply stating the nature of hunger… that hunger is by nature a pain that leads to pleasure. Hunger is the sensation that allows us to connect with food. We should value our spiritual hunger as we do our physical hunger… not as something bad… and to be ignored… but as something good… as necessary for life. What happens when we ignore our physical hunger? We grow weak… disoriented… then, most dangerously of all, we lose our appetite altogether.
What are we to understand then… is our hunger for God born of duty or desire?
Jesus declares a transforming truth in answer to that question… Matthew 13:44(NIV)
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”