It is said that we are always longing to give ourselves to something. And I believe that at the core of every human being are two essential needs: to delight (fully and unreservedly) and to be delighted in (fully and unreservedly). This is the essence of what it means to live – to function from the place of desire and being desired – full and free. True freedom is finding a place where we can live from out hearts.
For the human being, this activity must primarily found in a real relationship with the eternal, unchanging, all perfect and wonderful, intimate and lovesick God. It is he who fulfils our deepest desires for acceptance, for affection and love. Vice-versa, our fullest affections and desires find their perfect object in the eternal, perfect and beautiful God. Emotionally and psychologically, this pure ‘two way street’ is the perfect recipe for human flourishing and health.
We must be sure that we are not delighted in for what we can do, or how we look, or our earning potential but who we are – with unreserved acceptance and affection. Without judgement or condemnation.
And no other reality outside of God exists by which we can consistently give to and be given in fullness and in health. The affections we require cannot come from objects and also cannot ultimately come from another human being – the “river” is not nearly pure enough.
So life is simple: to love God and to be loved by him. Here we can see the value of worship. For in worship (in any form) we can love and we are loved in return. Extravagantly.
My final point about this idea is that practically and functionally, this is not in any way a lofty or an ascetic posture for someone to be in. But the beautiful thing is that in this “framework” – we find that all the lesser though important pleasures that would otherwise consume us, suddenly find their rightful places in our hearts. We can enjoy and desire people and things without obsessing over or becoming consumed by them. The caveats are: in reality it is rarely so black and white, and this is in some ways, an untested thesis for me…but it seems to make sense to my heart and mind, so there it is.
What a beautiful God, and what a beautiful life.
I’ve written a little piece – a rehash of the ‘old old story’ that works as continuation of the ideas in this post: The Story of the Ages
The church and our minds in modernity
The western evangelical church has in some ways fallen prey to intellectualism of modernity. We have underestimated the importance of the body and heart.
So we feed ourselves facts and theologies and propositions to remember. Knowing God has in some ways been reduced knowing theology as facts on a sheet to be memorized. This is an issue not exclusive to the western evangelical church institution, but is present in the western education system that is based on teaching and rote learning with some critical thinking thrown in (at least the high-school and university systems I went through).
Victoria’s Secret and the human heart
Armed with facts in the mind, we are daily exposed to the ‘real world’ where Victoria’s Secret and Coca-Cola and Peter Jackson are grabbing our hearts and our guts. This is where earthy sensuality and desire is aroused and magnified by companies who are appealing and targeting deeper and more powerful subconscious desires. And we experience a significant pull on our souls towards world that seems to provide an outlet and a target for longing hearts. And perhaps we have got our anthropology wrong – that is we have misunderstood the fundamental ways in which a human being works and thrives. While remaining an intellectually driven people, the world appeals to the subconscious and the heart desires that are perhaps what really drives our habits and behaviours and ultimately our lives.
Knowing God…in fullness
And so we must come back to the fullness of what it means to know God, and there we shall find life, and freedom – Christianity is life and life to the fullest and free-est that involves the the mind and feet and everything in-between. Knowing God is to be known by him so deeply and intimately that your heart beats faster and your breath gets taken away. Knowing God is to weep when he seems closer than your skin or your breath. Knowing God is to know your purpose and place in life as he brings direction, humility and maturity to your life in the way that only he can in the seasons of life he ordains.
To be sure – Knowing God does not exclude studying theology and intellectual concepts and propositions, it is not either/or but fullness – fullness of knowing the word and knowing theology – to study the word and know and memorize the concepts. On the other hand it is the fullness of knowing him intimately as the bridegroom, King and Judge – and in doing so to find your life in it’s perfect place and in full function in the kingdom he has, is and will bring to bear upon the earth.
And so a generation will be found by the King of Glory. They will be known and will know the one whose eyes are like flames of fire. This is the Psalm 24 generation.