What do all of the following behaviors have in common?
• A couple with two kids purchases a bigger house than they need, even though it means they’ll both have to work more and see each other and the kids less.
• A Hindu woman prays to a shrine of Vishnu three times a day.
• A middle-aged man leaves his wife of twenty years to move in with a woman half his age. He also starts smoking cigarettes and driving a Harley.
• A “Christian” group carries signs like “God hates fags” as they picket the military burial of a gay Marine.
• A pastor habitually gossips about others.
• A husband and father puts his family in financial distress by gambling behind their backs.
Do you see the common denominator?
While there are a multitude of psychological and social reasons why people do what they do, there is one driving motivation shared by all these people. It is captured by the words of Bruce Springsteen: “Everybody’s got a hungry heart.”
This hunger goes to the core of our being. It’s a hunger not just to survive, but thrive—to be fully alive. It’s a hunger to experience fullness of worth, significance, and security. It’s a hunger to have what I call “LIFE.” It’s the kind of LIFE Jesus incarnated and came to share with us. It lies at the heart of all that God’s kingdom is about.
Jesus announced, “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
When I was a youth, I did some outrageous things. When I was not conforming to social expectations, I felt more alive. I was simply searching for LIFE. I needed to stand out when compared to my peers. Unfortunately, the only way I could imagine was to “push the envelope.”
This is what is happening in all of the situations listed above. Each one, and any other outrageous action or sin, is an expression of searching for LIFE.
God made us with a desperate hunger for LIFE because, God, out of love, is hungry for us. His hunger for us isn’t an expression of neediness or emptiness, as is our hunger. Rather, his hunger for us is an expression of the fullness of perfect love. Precisely because he is a God of perfect love, he creates beings with whom he deeply wants to share himself and who desperately need him. Our in-built, insatiable hunger is simply God’s loving way of drawing us into a beautiful, eternal relationship with himself.
If you doubt that this is true for you, just look at what he did to pave the way for it to happen. In Jesus, the almighty God set aside the glory of heaven, became a human, took upon himself the hellish consequences of our sin, and died an agonizing death on the cross.
If that doesn’t strike you as one who desperately loves you, what would?
—Adapted from The Myth of a Christian Religion, pages 36-39.
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One of the most remarkable expressions of the all-encompassing nature of the cross is reflected in an incidental, but extremely important, comment that Paul made in his First Letter to the Corinthians. He noted that when he brought “the testimony of God” to Corinth, he hadn’t come “with eloquence or human wisdom”. He instead “resolved…
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