Each January 1st brings with it a myriad of “resolutions,” goals and visions of citizens around that world that desire to “be all they can be.” These resolutions, however, in no way resemble the term for which they are called, as many — if not all — “New Year’s resolutions” are neglected or thrown by the wayside within the first month, or less. And it’s not that we aren’t determined or that we lack the necessary fortitude, because if we did, we wouldn’t consistently make goals every New Year’s Eve that we’ll never realize. No, it’s that we all yearn for something more.
Inside of every one of us there is the desire for something greater, something higher, something larger and bigger than ourselves, some superior or surpassing “thing” that’s destined to “put everything together,” so to speak. As much as you’d probably not like to admit this, it’s verifiably true. If life is like a quest, then honestly, we’re all seeking after the same thing, even if we don’t know what that “thing” is.
The Quest for…Something
Every human endeavor is, in reality, merely the longing to appease the heart, to find stability, to be sincerely satisfied and content. We know that we’re not okay, that we don’t have everything together; most of us are just scraping by anyway. We understand that our system is broken, but so stubborn are we that we never succumb to dependence, opting for hardship over lordship. Writer and thinker Blaise Pascal bring this to startling attention when he writes, “The cause of one man’s engaging in war, and of another’s remaining at home, is the same desire of happiness, associated with different predilections. The will never stirs a step but towards this desired object. It is the motive of all the actions of all men, even of those who kill and hang themselves.” (184)
Never wishing to concede control or relinquish power, mankind has made it his sole purpose, his primary mandate, to find peace, happiness, love, joy, hope, satisfaction, value, meaning, purpose — that is, to find life itself — completely devoid of the presence of God. Rather than dealing with difficulty, some opt to end their existence. Instead of working and communicating with a spouse, others choose to infidelity. Rather than facing the challenges ahead, some attempt to evade them by fleeing altogether. Rather than paying your dues and being patient, most yearn for “everything now,” and end up taking what’s not theirs. Yes, even if everyone doesn’t recognize it, we’re all on the quest for that something that’s going to fill the void inside us and put all the pieces (back) together.
This is what we all desire. This is what we all long for. Indeed, this is has become the one uniting aspiration of mankind: filling that inner void. And, no doubt, just as diverse as the human race is, so too are the courses by which man seeks these things infinitely diverse. Some run to politics, others to science, others to materialism, some to charity, even more, still, to pleasure. All in the hopes of slaking an insatiable internal desire and need.
We’re All Broken
Any man or women with an ounce of sense understands that there’s something wrong with the world. Those who are championing the idea that we’re getting better and that mankind is advancing and that the “utopia” we seek is just around the corner are definitely not watching the headline news. Every day — every hour, honestly — we see and hear more evidence for the depravity and vileness of mankind than we’d ever need to prove that man is, in fact, depraved, shameless, and severely warped. We know that something’s wrong with the way things are — therefore, our endeavors to “fill the void” are our attempts at fixing it.
But so committed to our independence are we that we’ve come to chase after life and joy and satisfaction in a thousand different places, namely ourselves, others, pleasure, and religion, other than the One that promises everything. One can list the pursuits of man that seem to be teeming promise and satisfaction, but in all reality, they’re nothing more than shoddy “God-replacements.” As pastor and author Paul Tripp has stated: “We attempt to stand on an endless catalog of God-replacements that end up sinking with us.” (33–34)
The promise of “fixing everything” by “fixing yourself,” by chasing a better version of you, will always leave you feeling emptier than before. The idea of finding your value and purpose in others, that “Person-X will satisfy and complete me,” will always leave you lonelier than before. Believing in the promised happiness of the pleasures that the world offers only puts you in an unending hamster wheel of chasing satisfaction — the pleasure you do receive comes and vanishes just as quickly. And perhaps worst of all, pursuing change and meaning by running after religion is nothing more than trying to fix yourself with a little “Jesus” sprinkled on top. Religion says, “Favor’s won by doing — perform well and you’ll tilt the scales of eternity in your favor. Embrace this list of to-do’s and you’ll appease God and find satisfaction.” This idea of religion that fallible, failing, and filthy mankind making it up to a holy, perfect, and righteous God by “being good” is severely enslaving and terminally exhausting.
All these things, while promising satisfaction and joy and everything that we long for, only leave us feeling more empty and more broken — with a deeper sense of “something more” that’s still beyond our reach. The truth is, you’ll never be good enough. On your own, you can’t fix yourself, no matter how hard you try. By relying on others more, you’ll only be reminded of how people fail. Chasing pleasure only educates us in the fleeting and vaporous nature of earthly gratification. And setting your heart on religion merely modifies your behavior, leaving you a shell of your former self. These things are transient — they will never satisfy nor ever be good enough. And despite generation after generation relentlessly pursuing these “things,” to no avail or satiation, man still finds himself on the quest for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Mankind is perpetually asking, “What am I here for? What’s my purpose? Why am I alive?” The thought being, that to find the answer to these queries, and other mainstream questions like them, is to find everything that we long for — to find life itself. Unfortunately, men and women all over the world are seeking for the answers to these questions in all the wrong places. And the irony is that as we’ve pushed God away — and out of everything we do — we’ve pushed away the only hope of ever finding all that we seek. The true Solution and Remedy and Answer and Satisfaction is Christ himself. All the peace, happiness, love, joy, hope, satisfaction, value, meaning, purpose, and life we could ever wish to find is found solely in the gospel of Christ — in Jesus himself!
Everything that we crave resides in Jesus. Thus, to gaze more intensely at the cross, at his gospel, to believe more firmly and profoundly in all that it does and promises, is to find your meaning and purpose; to see your value and worth; and to feel love, joy, and peace. “The fullness of God” dwells in Christ. (Col. 1:19) To seek God is to find life. This isn’t some “prosperity gospel,” or anything of the sort. Such a notion is reprehensible and perverts what the gospel promises. To believe in Christ doesn’t guarantee you’ll get all that you want, nor that you’ll “have it your way,” but rather, that everything about you changes, transforms, including your desires and wants and affections.
Finding satisfaction in Jesus’s gospel doesn’t mean getting what you want. It means being satisfied “in Christ,” and all that he promises. “Jesus alone possesses the eternal resources we need to satisfy our eternal yearnings. That’s why looking to anything or anyone smaller than Jesus to save us is an exercise in futility.” (Tchividjian, 114) No sort of “God-replacement” can ever “fill the void,” or fulfill that inner desire for “something more”; that place is reserved for Jesus alone. Anything else we try to fit there ends up being a square peg forced into a round hole: it just doesn’t fit, nor is it designed to. Blaise Pascal elsewhere deduced that “this infinite void can never be filled by any but an infinite and immutable object.” (219)
Jesus is everything to those disposed and resolved to his gospel. (Eph. 1:22–23; Col. 1:15–20; Heb. 1:1–4) Christ is all things to redeemed and forgiven souls. (Col. 1:13–14) With hearts and minds bent on the Savior and all that he has secured for us, life takes on a different meaning and purpose. Being constantly reminded of all that we have in Christ enables us to live the life we were made to live — that being, one of praise and adoration of God. The Heavenly Father so desires that we would find that “superior satisfaction” in his Son. Nothing pleases or praises God more than his children finding resolution and rest in himself. Tullian Tchividjian, referencing John Piper, states:
Nothing can give [you] that ‘superior satisfaction in God’ better than a clearer focus on Jesus and his greatness. When we’re captured and captivated by who Jesus is, we’ll be empowered and equipped to resist the constant temptations to settle for anything less. (63)
If you’re one for making resolutions, don’t let them be to try and fix yourself or find yourself or please yourself. Don’t stand on the quicksand of an “endless catalog of God-replacements.” Stand on the Solid Rock that is Christ Jesus and his gospel of grace. Nothing else will last; nothing else will satisfy. Where others fail you, Jesus is faithful. (1 Cor. 1:7–9; Heb. 10:23; 13:5) Where pleasure escapes you, Jesus satisfies. (Ps. 17:15; Prov. 19:23; Jer. 31:25) Where religion exhausts you, Jesus promises rest. (Ps. 18:1–3; Matt. 11:28–30) Redemption and renewal can’t be found inside of you, nor in others. Rescue and reconciliation won’t be provided for you by the world, nor brought to you by religion. Nothing that the world offers can do that. And that’s the point. We won’t find all that seek until we seek after God. Until we’re pursuing God and his righteousness, life will be miserable, exhausting, and frustrating — a chaotic mess of broken people and a broken world futilely resolving to be better.
Chaos, Meet Clarity
But in this chaos comes the clarity of the gospel, for that’s what Jesus is. Our Respite and Refuge, God desires nothing more than for us to be resolved in him. Christian, resolve to pursue God greater; resolve to grasp more fully the fullness of the gospel; resolve to know Jesus, the Person, the Savior, the King, the Creator, the God. For to find life, to find meaning and value and purpose, etc., we must look nowhere else.
The benefits Jesus secured for sinners will always answer our heart’s deepest longings; we don’t have to look elsewhere, we don’t have to look to anything or anyone else besides Jesus to satisfy the deepest cravings and longings of our heart. Only when we come to a better understanding of what we already possess in Jesus will we be able to identify and then resist the counterfeit offerings of this world. (Tchividjian, 168)
By resolving yourself to the gospel, you’re resolving to know and do and understand all that God made you for. This world is searching, searching for “something,” anything, upon which to rely and stand on, and claim, “I’m content.” Resolve to stand on nothing less than Jesus’s blood and righteousness. Resolve to find his gospel to be your Rock.
There is a Rock to be found. There is an inner rest to be experienced that’s deeper than conceptual understand, human love, personal success, and the accumulation of possessions. There is a rock that will give you rest even when all of those things have been taken away. That rock is Christ, and you were hardwired to find what you are seeking in him. In his grace, he won’t play hide-and-seek with you. In your weakness and weariness, cry out to him. He will find you, and he will be your Rock. He is the rock for which you are longing, he is the one who alone is able to give you the sense that all is well. And as you abandon your hope in the mirage rocks of this fallen world, and begin to hunger for the true rock, he will reach out and place you on solid ground. (Tripp, 34)
Blaise Pascal, Thoughts, translated by W. F. Trotter (New York: P.F. Collier & Son, 1910).
Tullian Tchividjian, Jesus + Nothing = Everything (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011).
Paul Tripp, A Shelter in the Time of Storm: Meditations on God in Trouble (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2009).