I found this blog and thought it would be good for our church to read. Check it out:
There are moments when I am heavily deceived.
We all have a bend towards this mindset though we may not verbalize it. “If I could make this amount of money” or “if our relationship could just work out” or “if I were only a better person.” These are the type of pacts we make with ourselves which eventually lead us to despair. Living in the fallen world is hard at times, especially when we strive for what is only a mirage. A mirage keeps those who thirst for water panting for the day they’ll actually find it in the wilderness.
Why do seemingly good things in our lives produce temporary satisfaction?
We perform good deeds and want good gifts, and that is okay. I’ve been a part of the vanity myself, believing that people or things can make me happy. Our problem begins when we don’t reach our goals and the result hits our identity in it’s core.
“He said that he would marry me, but he broke my heart a month later!”
“The company told me that in a few years I’d get a major promotion. It’s been 6 and I’m not even sure we will be open for business next year.”
“The doctor keeps telling us that we are healthy enough to have kids, but it never works out.”
Fill in the blank with your biggest recent letdown. Marriage, jobs, and kids are all wonderful things, but what happens when the Lord takes our deepest desires? Anger? Depression? Unhealthy thoughts about self? While human emotion isn’t’ sin, it certainly reveals it. All of a sudden, the promises of man were our refuge and not the promises of God. We were shaken and our house on sand floated away. Suddenly, we are angry with God for not giving us what we wanted when, in fact, He is only saving us from ourselves.
On the contrary to our church attendance, leadership, and overall good reputation, God exposes our selfishness. The spiritual issue requires major reflection. We are easily fooled by the great mirage of this life: believing that the world can give us what only Jesus can – life!
Imagine your house floating away and you’re on the shore just watching it (Matthew 7:24-27). All the time you spent making it look pretty, the money you spent making sure it was safe, the hard work you put in making sure something like this wouldn’t happen. Then it happens. Our idol has been ripped from our finite, feeble hands.
The truth is, there is nowhere else to go that will be safe for you. What you have invested in Monday through Saturday has failed and your identity has been crushed. Though Jesus offered a better way, we chose to do our own thing.
And what about those of us who have always had our way? We have never experienced what it feels like to have something dear to us be taken away, only to be exposed before God. We know our hearts better than anyone else’s, but the Lord knows all. John Piper asks in a sermon,
“When has someone ever said that Jesus is all satisfying because you drove a BMW? Never!”
When has someone rightly proclaimed the goodness of God because of the temporary gifts that He gives us? My uncle gave me a gift for Christmas at 9 years old, and I didn’t say thank you. Instead, I grabbed the finely wrapped package from his hands and opened it before I could take a full breath. I didn’t notice how he wrapped it, or how he tied the bow. I didn’t think about him not having any children and how he went out of his way to buy this gift. I had no mind for the giver – only the gift. This is American Christianity.
How God breaks us of a love for the world is by doing just that– breaking us of it. Bringing forth a storm to show that our home was never built on the Cornerstone, if we are so lucky. Our Father revealing to us that the mirage is just a mirage is hard to embrace, but liberating.
And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? (Hebrews 12:5-7)
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:16-17)
God loves us enough to take away good possessions so that He would receive glory. This makes some Christians uneasy. “This thing isn’t about me?” you may be asking yourself. Because of the good news we have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20). Because His sacrifice we are free to serve Him (Romans 6:18). Speaking to a Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob,
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)
Jesus is not telling this woman to fast from water. He is telling her where to find life! He knows that we were made for God, and God is the only One who can restore and satisfy our souls.
Jesus is inviting those of us who have attempted to build our own kingdoms and have failed miserably. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
A mirage keeps those who thirst for water panting for the day they’ll actually find it in the wilderness. So, why do seemingly good things in our lives produce temporary satisfaction?
There is this incredibly gaping hole inside of us. We feel the weight and pressure of it, therefore we fill it with whatever we can get our hands on– jobs, spouse, kids. When it’s all said and done, we are still thirsty for more. Our desires to be whole and full are true desires, but they are only fulfilled by Christ.
The promises of man drain us, but the promises of God give us life (Deut. 8:3). It’s refreshing to be reminded of these truths when I cannot see them for myself in the mirage. A great way to fight the temptation of loving our gifts more than the Giver is to join a fight club!
At Redeemer, there are three layers to our gatherings. Sunday gatherings, gospel communities and fight clubs. Although each of these gatherings are different, they are all equally important for one’s growth in Christ, community, and mission. Beginning or joining a fight club is an essential way to grow in your faith and learn how to fight sin.
These are small groups of 2-4 men or 2-4 women who regularly meet to fight for the faith in the Gospel. The temptation of our hearts is to replace the Lord with His gifts, even when we don’t see it we’re doing it!
Pick some people, set a meeting time, and get down to business! There are few things more sanctifying than a friend who loves you deeply enough to ask, “What has been stealing your affections from the Lord this week?” Together, we can seek the Lord and fight our way through the mirage to see Jesus for who He truly is– the Living Water, our all-satisfying Savior.