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What Are You Leading People to Expect from Jesus?

God may not be interested in satisfying every one of our desires.

Our lives on this planet will never be completely satisfying, no matter how closely we walk with Jesus. If we are healthy people, we will never reach the point where we don’t need intimacy, love, encouragement, and companionship from the human relationships God has designed for us. Likewise, if we are sensitive and open to his work in us, we will never be truly satiated with what we can experience with him now—outside his tangible presence—with the barrier of sin, the limitations of time, and our dim understanding between us.

God blesses those who are unsatisfied, who are hungry and thirsty for what he will offer us beyond this life. We can experience God’s blessings in specific ways when we acknowledge, accept, and embrace a life without satisfaction. Our unsatisfied hearts can keep us looking ahead to a day when our “long-distance relationship” with Christ will end and we will see him face to face.

As leaders and representatives of Christ, let’s be careful how we speak of what a relationship with him will do in our emotional lives here and now. When we offer easy words about satisfaction—“When you know Jesus, you don’t feel emptiness, longing, or unhappy anymore”—we make false promises. In doing this, we encourage people to come to Jesus without expectation of transformation or sacrifice. We encourage them to settle for so much less than he wants them to long for. Moreover, we draw people to Jesus in anticipation that he will deliver on our promises—setting people up to turn away when he doesn’t come through.

Jesus really is the source of all true satisfaction. He promises blessing to those who are willing to hold out for its future fulfillment: “God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied” (Matt. 5:6). Rather than appeal to people’s consumerist appetites, we can inspire people to know and follow Christ on his own terms—because he is God, he loves us, he is trustworthy, and ultimately he is the only answer that makes any sense. He fills us with “rivers of living water” (John 7:38) that give us a foretaste of the full, quenching invitation to come (Rev. 22:17).

Amy Simpson is a life and leadership coach, speaker, and author of the new book Blessed Are the Unsatisfied: Finding Spiritual Freedom in an Imperfect World (InterVarsity Press). You can find her at AmySimpson.com and on Twitter @aresimpson.

February13, 2018 at 10:44 AM

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