Every attempt to squeeze a reason for living out of this world in isolation from its Creator ultimately runs dry, leaving the idolater unfulfilled, frustrated, and bitter. The insufficiency of creation is a billboard for the sufficiency of God. He alone can meet our deepest needs.
God’s insistence that he alone be worshiped, so that our exercise of dominion [over the creation] is done in dependence on him, is therefore not an expression of evil egotism but an overture of love. God has created us in such a way that our fulfillment is wrapped up in displaying his glory. When God insists that he alone be our God, he is insisting on our happiness, since nothing compares with God when satisfying our longings.
– Scott Hafemann, The God of Promise and the Life of Faith
We are not merely a lost generation . . . Our predicament is much deeper and of much longer duration. Centuries of skepticism, doubt, and contempt have taken their toll. Millions of us across the Western world have been rendered spiritual eunuchs. It’s not that we don’t long for God. The problem is that we’re incapable of consummating the relationship. Faith and grace have been drained from us, leaving only those most primitive of instincts: our obsessions with self and things material. We are a race of accountants counting the grains of sand on our beaches. We are a tribe of technicians, fixing the hands of a clock that counts down the seconds of our lives.
Yet the desire, the longing for God—this remains. No thoughtful human can deny it . . . The desire is real, and it is breaking our hearts. Yet in our incapacity to believe we find ourselves staring, paralyzed, as the love of our lives disappears into the distance.
We have been duped into accepting the very first lie of materialism, that is the hideous claim that there is no supernatural order to the universe. The materialists have imprisoned us in a world of mere matter, of physical facts divorced from and devoid of metaphysical truth. Well, I say that they are lying. I say that they are the ones who have come up with a false myth . . . and they have convinced us that it is true. They have made us believe that this is all there is: three dimensions, five senses, four walls . . . The four walls of materialism are the four walls of a prison. The materialists are our jailers . . . They have put us in a prison, a prison of four walls. They don’t want us to see what’s beyond those four walls. They don’t want us to discover what lies outside their narrow philosophy.
How is it that the country which most ruthlessly sought to eliminate religion in the last century is now poised to become the most Christian nation in the world? Approximately 65 million lives were eliminated in China last century in an unparalleled attempt to plant materialism firmly in the hearts of the Chinese people. It failed disastrously.
It is not known exactly how many Chinese Christians there are, but a conservative guess now estimates that there are at least 65 million Protestants in China and 12 million Catholics—more believers than there are members of the Communist Party. Some Chinese Christians think the number is well over one hundred million. Furthermore, China is now the biggest publisher of Bibles worldwide.
The communist revolution was not exactly successful. To endeavor to imprison people within the narrow confines of a materialist worldview is a hopeless task. To claim that there is no supernatural order to the universe, that there is nothing beyond the four bare walls of the physical world is a hideous lie that ultimately will not stick.
People have an intrinsic need for meaning, for transcendence, for some kind of connection with the spiritual realm. It’s in our DNA. It’s written in our hearts. This inner thirst can never be satisfied by merely indulging our physical senses. There’s a longing within us that the material world cannot satisfy. The Bible describes it with these words: “He has also set eternity in the hearts” (Eccles. 3:11).
Religion is under attack in the West. Forces such as New Atheism have risen up to replace Christianity with a purely naturalistic worldview. China tried that and it failed (not to mention several other countries where the experiment also crashed and burned.) It didn’t work in the East, and it won’t work in the West. People simply cannot be contained in such a suffocating prison.
In the midst of the suffocating self-love of our modern and postmodern culture, the Bible is clear that our real hunger is to know the one true God revealed in its pages. Only in doing so will we satisfy our cravings for security (faith), find the purpose for which we exist (hope), and be able to live free from slavery to self (love).
To meet these needs, we must return to the [God of the] Bible. It really is that straightforward.
Indeed, how could this crazy idea, this crazy desire, ever have entered into the mind and heart of man? How could a creature without a digestive system learn to desire food? How could a creature without manhood desire a woman? How could a creature without a mind desire knowledge? And how could a creature with no capacity for God desire God? –Peter Kreeft
We cannot live unaffected by love.
We are most alive when we feel it, most devastated
when we lose it, most empty when we give up on it,
most inhumane when we betray it, and most
passionate when we pursue it. . . .
All of us have an intrinsic need to belong, and all of us are on a search for intimacy. No matter how many things about us are different, in this we are all the same—we all crave love. It is as if we are searching for a love we have lost. Or perhaps more strangely we are searching for a love we have never known but somehow sense it awaits us.
The most powerful evidence that our souls crave God is that within us there is a longing for love.
A man’s physical hunger does not prove that that man will get any bread; he may die of starvation on a raft in the Atlantic. But surely a man’s hunger does prove that he comes of a race which repairs its body by eating, and inhabits a world where eatable substances exist. In the same way, though I do not believe (I wish I did) that my desire for Paradise proves that I shall enjoy it, I think it a pretty good indication that such a thing exists and that some men will. A man may love a women and not win her; but it would be very odd if the phenomenon called “falling in love” occurred in a sexless world.
H.G. Wells was not a religious man; he was the apostle of scientific materialism and an enemy of organized faith. However, his study of history and his observation of human life led him to write the following words: “Religion is the first thing and the last thing, and until a man has found God and been found by God, he begins at no beginning, he works to no end. He may have his friendships, his partial loyalties, his scraps of honor. But all these things fall into place and life falls into place only with God.”
Most people if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise. The longings which arise in us when we first fall in love, or first think of some foreign country, or first take up some subject that excites us, are longings which no marriage, no travel, no learning, can really satisfy. I am not now speaking of what would ordinarily be called unsuccessful marriages, or holidays, or learned careers. I am speaking of the best possible ones. There was something we grasped at, in that first moment of longing, which just fades away in reality. I think everyone knows what I mean. The wife may be a good wife, and the hotels and scenery may have been excellent, and chemistry may be a very interesting job: but something has evaded us.