- Ben Steward
Reading John 6, I found myself asking: "How exactly is Jesus satisfying to me as the bread of life?" What I mean by this is, can I enumerate all the ways in which he meets my needs as a human being, and furthermore, is that enough for me? Is there some way in which I could be left unfulfilled by him?
In meditating on this question, the Spirit began to bring about answers. First of all, Jesus is God, the Creating Word! What can't he do for me?! By mediating intimacy with the Father of All for me, is there then anything that I can't ask for and receive from his gracious hand? But the skeptic rose up in me and said, "Yes, but sometimes you know he says 'no' to your requests, he's not a genie, after all. And isn't this sort of like begging the question a bit? This answer sounds too easy. I need something concrete!" So I continued in my meditation to seek more specific answers to my original query.
To answer the skeptic regarding prayers seemingly unanswered or denied, I mused that even a loving father doesn't give his child everything he asks for. Additionally, I considered that I wasn't created to merely receive whatever I wanted. I was made also for prolonged desire, for pursuit, for work, and for contentment and resilience. Sometimes what I need is a clear "no" and to carry on using the various gifts I already possess to uncover a different sort of delight or satisfaction that only God knows I would be better off experiencing. And sometimes hardship contains rewards that noble minds can appreciate as much as the softer blessings life affords.
This line of thinking started me down a path to consider who I am as a human, as one bearing the image of the Divine. What was I made to need? In what ways was I meant to be satisfied?
This is the most significant way in which I am satisfied in God, as it is indeed my created purpose. My natural tendency is to worship and praise, for this is why I was made. In Christ, who brings me through his grace and heroic deeds of salvation to the Father God, I find the most majestic and praiseworthy Being and Works in all of history. What more could I wish for to be able to expend my energy in adoration and worship? Truly, I shall be satisfied.
Man seeks ever for purpose in his doings. Where he finds it is a fascinating meditation: outside of himself. In worship he finds purpose, but also in deeds of selflessness. The greatest heroes in the greatest tales acted altruistically for the benefit of the distressed, and to this ideal we all aspire. This is something that God created us for, and it creates contentment in us to know that we acted for someone else's good above our own. Christ offers me, yes, even commands me, to operate in this way of selflessness, and he exemplifies and empowers me through his Spirit to resist my selfish urges and stay the course. I can direct my selflessness toward Him, in service and praise, and toward his People in the exercise of the Spirit's gifts, and toward the unbelievers in acts of love and witness to the Truth.
I find this idea incredibly interesting, that God made me to work. We too often think of work almost as if it were part of the Curse, but we were given work as a gift long before the fall. In Jesus, I find that work is sanctified, and more specifically, I find that he gives me a work to be doing: the ministry of reconciliation. Christ's modus operandi of making disciples was something he explicitly passed down, both during and at the close of his earthly ministry. My search for purpose and mission is greatly fulfilled in this notion that I am a herald of the King! I have a message to bring to the nations of the earth, that the Lord reigns in Zion!
Furthermore, all my life is a labor of sacrifice to please God, for which he has promised rewards in the day of resurrection. This fills me with impetus to be busy in all manner of righteousness for his glory and my joy forever. And as a human being, I really like that a lot.
Thought, Meditation, Spirituality
Descartes spoke for all of us when he timelessly uttered cogito ergo sum. We are not mere beasts of instinct, but high-minded, intellectually capable, spiritual creatures. And when we don't use these amazing faculties, we get bored, and we are tempted to evil. The best among us develop disciplines of the mind that work it like a muscle, exercising the creativity and problem-solving gifts of thought to maximize their produce. Here Christ offers us a great wealth of supply, in that the depths of his infinite Being cannot be plumbed by our mortal minds, but every foray into the inner life of God leaves us amazed, bewildered, enlightened--insatiably satiated with knowledge and divine lore. Christian theology takes us deep into the mind and inner workings of the Godhead, where Trinitarian and Christotelic ideas baffle and astound us and humiliate us in grateful worship. And as we pick up the Story of Scripture, we embark on a journey of wild adventure, our imaginations and longings are awakened, and we find ourselves--in the characters of history and in the Answer of the Ages speaking to our present struggles with peace and grace. Philosophically, scientifically, politically, and in many other ways, we have a harbor in which to moor our petty worldview, and the Holy Shipwright can mend and augment the vessel of the mind. When we embark on the raging and treacherous seas of this world's folly, our perspective will be sure, guided by Truth and anchored in the timeless principles against which the waves of evil intent can only crash but never erode. In all your thinking and spiritual seeking, start with Jesus, and you will not easily be thrown off course. This is a great source of peace and contentment.
To go without
I was made for more than just to receive or even to produce. I was also made to enjoy what I have and to be content, and when times are hard, I was made to endure and to be resilient. While I don't mean that God intended to leave me wanting and wasting away, I do mean that we have that unique quality of being able to make the most of a tough situation and to brace against hardship with gratitude and hope. Great lessons of life are learned in these experiences, and great satisfaction can be derived from enduring well in hard times. These are gifts I can receive from God knowledgeably and worshipfully, as I see in Jesus the greatest example of endurance and steadfastness with joy and gratitude.
There is one thing, especially, that I need desperately in order to find lasting satisfaction as a human being: Righteousness. Not a righteousness of my own, as the Apostle articulated so clearly, but a righteousness that comes from God, a righteousness that is sourced in objectively right and good principles and efficacy. Critically, I must understand that I do not produce such a righteousness naturally. My foolishness and selfishness make sure of that. But in the intimacy that I have with God, I can clearly perceive, and even receive for myself, as if it were my own, this very righteousness that I lack. And where does this righteousness come from? and what does it do for me? It comes from Christ, the perfect Son of God, who alone knows the Father eternally among all mankind. And what does it do? It forms the foundation and bedrock of all that is good, holy, and peaceful.