The only kind of life animals care about is biological. If their basic physical needs for food and shelter are met, they’re satisfied. Humans also want their basic physical needs met, of course, but that isn’t enough. We hunger for more. Not only do we want to be alive, we want to feel fully alive. We hunger for Life.
This craving for Life can be described in many ways. Among other things, it includes the profound desire to feel loved and the desire to be happy. But one of the most fundamental aspects of the Life we long for is our undeniable, universal need to experience worth and significance. Though we may be unaware of it, all of us are driven by a desperate need to feel like we matter. Even if all our basic physical needs are met and we enjoy all the comforts the world has to offer, still, on some level, we will feel empty unless we sense that our life serves an ultimate purpose.
Many things can make us feel worthwhile and significant, but our deepest hunger is only satisfied when we’re rightly related to God. Only our Creator can give us the fullness of Life we crave. Jesus’ death on the cross is proof that we could not possibly have more worth and significance to God. Despite our sin, our Creator thinks we are worth experiencing a hellish death for. In fact, it was for the joy of spending eternity with us that Jesus endured the cross (Heb. 12:2). In other words, Calvary reveals our unsurpassable worth and significance. At the core of our being, this is what we long for.
Why did God create us with this hunger? Because he wants to share himself with us. He wants us to participate in his divine nature (1 Peter 1:4). As Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, he longs for us to join in his eternal dance of perfect, ecstatic love. Our insatiable hunger for a depth of Life that only he can give is a sort of built-in “homing device” intended to lead us to him. The Trinity is our home, and we are never fully satisfied or at peace until we rest in him.
Yet because God wants a loving relationship with us, he does not force us to accept his invitation. We have the ability to refuse it if we so choose. If we want, we can pretend we’re self-sufficient and able to meet our own needs. If fact, were it not for God’s grace working in our life, this is what all of us in our fallen condition would want and what all of us would choose. For apart from Christ, Scripture says, we are all dead in our sins (Eph 2:1,5).
When we push God away, our homing device doesn’t shut off. It simply gets redirected. Instead of leading us home to the Trinity, we try to satisfy our hunger for worth and significance by turning to other things.
—Adapted from Present Perfect, pages 45-46