Summary: A sermon on spiritual dryness, lack of enthusiasm, lack of growth, and desires (Material adapted from Ruth Barton's book, Sacred Rhythms, chapter 1 entitled Longing for More)
U2 sang these lyrics: You broke the bonds and you Loosed the chains Carried the cross Of my shame Oh my shame You know I believe it
Sounds great, about Jesus but then they sing: But I still haven't found what I'm looking for
Don’t jump to conclusions or judgments here. Have we ever felt that way?
There has to be something more. I am missing out on something in my Christian life.
Next week planning on speaking about spiritual dryness. Good introduction to that.
The same old practices in our Christian life just don’t seem to have the same punch they did have. The prayers, the Scriptures, the church services, communion, loses something.
When this happens we need to go to God and be honest about where we are and what we are feeling. We need to think about what we want from our relationship with God/ Christ.
We want salvation. Very important, but can be much more to our relationship than that.
There are times in my life when I can say, “These are the moments I will remember on my deathbed and say, ‘That was what I was meant for.’”
There are other times in my life when I am aware of my brokenness, and a longing for real, fundamental change groans within me. In one season of my life I experienced a betrayal so deep that for quite some time I was almost paralyzed. I had the normal feelings of rage, sadness and grief, but there was an even deeper longing- the longing to be healed.
When was the last time we had a longing? A longing for love, a longing for more of God, a longing to live our lives as they were meant to be lived in God? When was the last time we felt a longing for healing and fundamental change groaning within us?
No, no, we need to silence our desires and not dwell upon this. After all desire can be a bad thing. Are not my desires full of human deception and sinful urges? What if these desires overtake me and propel me down a path I ought not to go? Worse yet, what if I find those desires within me and let myself really feel how deep they are ingrained into me, only to discover that those desires cannot be met?
There are several places in the gospels where Jesus asks people questions that helped them to get in touch with their desire and name it in his presence. Questions like, “What do you want? What do you want me to do for you? Do you want to get well?”
Thesis: Let’s look at 3 of those places in the life of Jesus.
Mark 10:46-52- Blind Bartimaeus
We don’t know how long Bartimaeus had been spending his days begging by the side of the road, but on this day Bartimaeus heard that Jesus was passing by, and he saw an opportunity. Perhaps Jesus could do something for him that no one else had been able to do. Perhaps Jesus could do what he had been hoping for and dreaming of for so long.
But it was noisy and crowded in the city that day, and it would be hard to get anyone’s attention, let alone Jesus. In order to get Jesus’ attention, Bartimaeus had to reach deep within, and cry out from his desire.
Jesus heard him that day, above all the others. The people around Jesus were embarrassed by such an explosion of need and tried to silence him, but Bartimaeus’s cry so captured Jesus’ attention that it stopped him in his tracks. Jesus summoned him and Jesus asked Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Now, if we had been Bartimaeus, we might have gotten a little impatient and said, “What do you mean by this question? Isn’t it obvious? And besides, this is getting a little personal, don’t you think? We don’t know each other that well!”
However, Jesus asked this question for a good reason. This question can penetrate to the core of our being. It brings us face to face with our humanness, our vulnerability, our need. This is a tender place indeed.
The desire of Bartimaeus was granted. It was a holy desire, but what about unholy desires?
In my deepest being I really want something that is unholy.
Mark 10:35-45- Request of James and John
When James and John were bold enough to reveal their desire, it exposed selfish ambition that was harmful to them and to the community of disciples. There are also desires within us that work against the life of the Spirit within us- desires rooted in selfish ambition, pride, lust, fear, self protection, and many others.
I know this is wrong for me so I will not tell the Lord about it. We need to let the Lord know because to refuse to acknowledge what’s real within us, this desire seems to wield a power over us. This power only gets stronger the longer we repress it. How much safer it is for ourselves and everyone around us if we open up our desires in Jesus’ presence and allow him to help us sift through them.