Recently I spoke about the fact that words like Peace, Love, Hope and Joy express deep longings we all have, but that we end up settling for “stuff” that promises to deliver these longings but never does.
Over the last couple of nights I have been reading a book that has given me new language to understand just how profound that settling for less actually is.
Regular readers of Faith Reflections will know how much the books of N.T. (Tom) Wright have had on my heart and mind. There has been a deep relief as I encountered his writing because I found him expressing the truth of the bible in a way that made sense intellectually but also challenged my heart and helped me understand Jesus and myself a whole lot more.
His most recent book is called “The day the revolution began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion,” and while I haven’t yet finished, the parts I have already read are helping me understand the dilemma of what it means to be a human being much more clearly.
When I was speaking on Christmas eve about our longings for Peace, Hope, Love and Joy, I knew that I was speaking about the human spirit that is common to everyone. In the book of Job, the courageous young man Elihu asserts that:
But it is the spirit in a person,
the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding.
I knew that whether the people who were hearing me would call themselves Christians or not, there was a spirit in them that that longed for hope, peace, love and Joy. I also knew that no words I could say would accurately capture that reality, because as the writer of Ecclesiastes points out, God has made everything beautiful in its time, however:
He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
Part of all of us is beyond our capacity to understand. Our hearts long for true love, true hope, true peace and true joy and those longings drive us, and as I wrote a few weeks ago, these are the longings that clever marketers try to tap in to when they sell their products.
What N.T. Wright helped me give words to in a new way is what happens when we settle for less than who we are created to be. …