So, last time I offered a few questions for meditation.
I also invited responses.
You were very quiet.
If you’re normally someone who likes to comment, your silence likely indicates one of two things. Either the questions were far to big to answer in a blog comment, or the answers seemed so obvious that it felt silly to even respond. If the former is true—I’m with ya. The significance of human desires is so mammoth in my estimation that even now I’m having a hard time deciding which direction to go in this follow up. If the latter is true—well…humor me as I fumble through the obvious. 🙂
Here’s my thinking: What if all human desires are fundamentally a reflection of things we were created for? What if it’s in the how and when we choose to pursue their fulfillment that things get messed up?
This is not a novel concept. Christians acknowledge that human appreciation for beauty arises from the reality that God is beautiful, and that he made beautiful things for us to enjoy. We recognize that our desire to be loved corresponds to the truth that we were created to be objects of God’s love. We even give a nod to the fact that our physical drives/desires are at least partially good—that though they’re just a concession for these “un-spiritual,” earthly bodies, they do promote survival, and encourage procreation.
Even with these admissions, however, I have observed that many believers carry around a vague, but nagging impression that all desires are somehow un-spiritual, even—and perhaps especially—the most profound yearnings of the human soul. Longings for intimate relationship, significance, unique value, gratifying work, and adventure are regarded with suspicion—often viewed as nothing more than glorified forms of selfishness, pride, worldly ambition, or ignorance.
Even if we entertain the thought that these desires are good and meant to be fulfilled, we assume that God’s intended fulfillment must be so “spiritual” and other that it bears very little resemblance to what we think we are actually longing for now. If we catch ourselves hoping or imagining that our existence in heaven will satisfy our current longings in any kind of recognizable way, we suppress it as a shameful indication of our own immaturity and presumption.
It’s true that the New Testament has plenty to say about the wickedness of the world and the of the flesh, but those terms refer to the current order of things under Satan’s rule, and to the propensity toward sin that mankind inherited at the fall. Those warnings and condemnations cannot be referring to the earth or to physical bodies—both of which are the result of God’s creative work.
Doesn’t Genesis describe God creating the man and the woman (spiritual beings) with physical bodies, and placing them in a physical world, with meaningful work to do? Didn’t he say they were made in his image and that it was very good? Didn’t he walk with them in the garden and enjoy unique relationships with them as distinct and significant individuals?
Isn’t heaven (as my friend at Delve pointed out) described in physical terms (city, rivers, buildings, vegetation, creatures, bodies, feasts, etc.)? Don’t the details of life in heaven include work, activity, sequence, process, and interaction?
Wouldn’t it be interesting if our desires aren’t evil or misguided—and they don’t suddenly cease or drastically alter when we arrive in heaven? What if we just stop pursuing them in wicked, painful, and destructive ways, and start enjoying them the way that man did before the fall—in a place much like this, with bodies not entirely unlike these, through activities and relationships much like the ones we engage in now?
I wonder if we have any very good reason for thinking that our desires are a deception and a distraction, keeping us from pursuing, understanding, or achieving true spirituality. Since God had good plans for us when he designed us, it makes sense that our core desires would compel us toward him—that the culmination of our deepest longings would recognizably correspond to the fulfillment of his intentions for us.
What do you think?
And how might our assumptions on this matter affect our approach to life, our understanding of God and his character, or our anticipation of eternity?