Jesus understands our propensity to obsess over the things of this world. He confronted this tendency in the lives of His first followers with these words:
“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:31-33).
It seems that most of our energies each day are consumed with desires that relate to the needs of our physical existence here in this life. Stop to think about how your life is typically ordered around where or when you will eat your next meal, or what you will wear, or how you will satisfy one desire or another (some of them sinful).
Many of us have grown up in a church culture in which we have been taught to deny desires. Desire is undesirable.
On the surface that seems to be right on target. However, there is another way of looking at this matter of desire. Perhaps the bigger problem for us is not the presence of desire in our lives, but rather the weakness of the desire in our lives. Could it be that God is not teaching us to desire less, but really to desire more? If so, then Jesus’ challenge to His disciples in Matthew 6:31-33 is a challenge to not be so easily satisfied.
The great apologist C.S. Lewis, in his book The Weight of Glory, explains this well: “Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased … At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of the morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendors we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. Someday, God willing, we shall get in.”
The Kingdom of God has come. It invisibly thrives all around us. It whispers to us that this world is not our home. It beckons us to not simply settle for earthly satisfaction, but to fervently press through those desires to the noblest of all desires … the desire for God, His Kingdom and His righteousness.