Summary: We're all looking for something, we just don't always know what we are looking for.
Community Service in the Park
May 29th, 2005
Have you ever noticed that we are tireless searchers? Jesus points this out to us in our first passage this morning, Matthew 13:44-45. We seem to spend our lives searching for one thing or another. It begins early in life, searching for acceptance. I have two young daughters, both of them very competitive for my attention. My day is constantly punctuated by “Daddy, watch me!” This is the motto of childhood, isn’t it? Watch me!
And this urge to be seen, to be accepted, follows us throughout life. It becomes the root cause of our search. Most of the things we search for are somehow connected to our desire to be accepted – to be loved. And so our radar goes up for that perfect companion; that perfect friend; that perfect lover. We look for that one person with whom we can bare our soul.
And we look in all kinds of places for the relationship we were born to have. We hope to find it in the eyes of a lover. Cautiously, we open ourselves to them. And though we give our bodies to our lovers – they come to know our body as well as their own – we never fully develop the trust needed to reveal our naked soul. And so, in the end our search isn’t satisfied by our lover.
So we throw ourselves passionately into our work. We become the “go-to-guy.” We push for perfection, we glory with each elevation in position and pay and we find satisfaction for a while in the work of our hands. But when the roar of success settles to a dull rumble – wealth and fame not withstanding – we still find we are restless for something else. We start looking for new challenges, even though we know a new challenge will not satisfy us anymore than the first one did.
So we take up a cause – we save the whales, we house the homeless, we advocate for the powerless. We join civic organizations, we play sports, we travel – we fill our lives with activity, thinking that the busier we are the more meaningful our life must be. We try to become invaluable, thinking that our purpose is to leave a legacy. Like so many, we mistake our place in history with significance and so we pursue significance in the eyes of others.
And in the quiet moments before sleep, when that sense of missing significance steals upon us despite our busyness, we play our last desperate card. We decide to have children – not mainly for love, but so that we can leave our mark on the world, leave something of ourselves behind. We seek immortality by reproducing.
But the ache to be really and deeply known doesn’t go away. That one desire keeps popping up. Why? In the Bible, a wise man named Solomon was moved by God to write these words in Ecclesiastes 3:10-11.
I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
Solomon here hits upon what drives our search. God has set eternity in our hearts. In other words, we have a longing to know God, to have friendship with God, to search out God – to be in a deep, intimate, committed relationship with God. We are built for that relationship; it is part of our DNA. We were created to love God our Creator and enjoy him forever. We were created to know him and be known by him.
Yet, Solomon says, we cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. That’s what causes the ache, the longing. That’s what sets our feet on the search for a significant relationship. We long to know God passionately, but we cannot seem to penetrate the layers of stuff we fill our lives with to realize that’s what we really need. Why?
The Bible says the problem is sin. Sin is a word we don’t hear much anymore except when it is used in the titles of adult movies as an enticement. In Romans 3:23, however, it says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. What that means is that all of us have this huge problem when we are born – we are sinful. We have a tendency toward doing things that are wrong, that are evil, that are the opposite of what God wants us to do.
You see, sin twisted the desires God created us with and perverted them. Instead of loving God and knowing him as we were created to do, sin has twisted that desire into loving ourselves and wanting to be God. We don’t like the idea of being responsible to someone else, of owing our existence to someone else. So rather than honoring God as we were created to do, we refuse to even acknowledge that he exists. And so sin works in all our natural desires, working throughout our lives and tainting every relationship. Everything we turn our hands to is marred by our predisposition to behave badly. And it is our sin – our waywardness – that separates us from God. It hangs like a thick black veil between us and God.