geezeronthequad: Jesus In Pursuit – Deeper Satisfactions
Every fall the Harvard Crimson publishes a feature entitled “The Hottest Freshmen of the Class of ?” A dozen or two of the incoming freshmen get classy photo shoots, sit down as a group at a fine restaurant and answer some questions. I feel bad for them on a number of counts. First, these students are just newly escaped from high school and are freshmen even though it’s Harvard. I don’t care what comprises “hotness” at Harvard (GPA’s?), they all now wear a label and labels never fully explain who we are. Second, all the questions fired at them sound more like beauty pageant fodder. Where will you be in fifteen years? One answer – “Happy and problem free.” Wouldn’t we all like to be there, only in fifteen minutes or so?
What would it take to be happy and problem free? The usual suspects include money or wealth, fame, power and sex. They come wrapped many different ways. But do they deliver…really? A sad parable popped up in newspapers around the world telling the tale of actor Jack Nicholson. Nominated for more Oscars than anyone, a star with power, a glamour boy with younger women and enjoying luxury beyond imagination, he now sits alone in his Hollywood mansion. He lives almost as a recluse, seeing few friends and foregoing former pleasures like watching his beloved L.A. Lakers. Nicholson especially grieves that his womanizing over the years leaves him without a lasting love relationship and he fears dying alone with no one to take care of him. Sounds like Solomon in the biblical book of Ecclesiastes. “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity” (Eccl 1:2)
Happiness acts like the Roadrunner leaving Wile E Coyote in the dust. No matter how hard we get after it, happiness as a goal evaporates through our fingers. Nothing satisfies. While her head was attached and she was still thinking clearly, Marie Antoinette said, “Nothing tastes.” Jesus ran into someone who thought they knew what would make them happy and she was hard after it, desperately so. In John 4, the boys had gone to town to buy food leaving Jesus by a pool or a well. A woman came to draw water and Jesus completely disarmed her by asking for a drink. Since she was a Samaritan, that Jesus even spoke to her civilly shocked her since Jews and Samaritans hated each other (Religion fueled hatred is the worst.) Toward the end of their exchange, we learn she’s been through five marriages and now lives with someone. Widowed five times? Not likely. And divorces could be had more quickly than the blink of an eye. While today is different, cohabiting in Jesus’ day just wasn’t done. The Jewish and Roman cultures both embraced marriage, and while Romans looked the other way on adultery, Jews (culturally including Samaritans) regarded living together as a scandal and a disgrace.
Sure in her heart that the love of a man would make her happy, she moved through various kinds and degrees of rejection, disappointment and disillusionment until she became so desperate she would risk public shame and disgrace for what smelled like love even though it came with no commitment. That’s why she came to draw water now. Everyone else came earlier in the day to draw all they would need. By coming later, the woman stood a better chance of being there alone and of avoiding the looks and cutting remarks. Then it seemed like Jesus solved her problem. “Every one who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13)
“Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” No more hassles hauling water. No more taunts and shame. We too often reduce Jesus Christ to what we think He can do for us. We do to Him what we do to potato chips. We consume. We consume sermons, books, praise music and all the rest as if we walked into Wal-Mart. We get what we want for us and leave, often speaking to no one.
But think of it. Something that would satisfy our thirsts and hungers, the deep ones disappointed so many times. Jesus offers Himself as their satisfier. He blots out shallow hopes, makes our self-centered goals seems shabby and a waste of time. Our attempts to bend Him to our way melt like an ice-cube in the sunshine. Eugene Petersen (who compiled The Message ) said that our plans often wind up being trivial or small. God’s plans for us are always grand. She went home saying, “Come see a man who told me everything I ever did. (That can’t have been good news for everyone in that town.) Could this be the Messiah?”
Finding heartache and rejection in a series of warm bodies, this woman now meets another who knows everything she ever did. Most would have rejected her right there or made noises of love merely to be the next to use her. But He spoke to a woman inside her she couldn’t imagine. He spoke to the deepest places which were carved and fitted for Him. And once she found that, she would never trifle with the weeds of small hopes and empty dreams that would choke her again.
Did you know that college students all over the country churn out some pretty decent theological journals and magazines? Check out The Augustine Collective where you can visit them all individually and maybe think about doing one for your own campus.
If you already subscribe to geezeronthequad.com, maybe you should think about being part of Geezer 1, the Facebook clubhouse for the blog. It’s mix of students, student ministry leaders, professors, administrators, artists, writers, musicians, composers, booksellers, broadcasters, theologians, pastors, business people, cultural thinkers and entrepreneurs as well as a few campus rats who think that Jesus Christ thinks that the university is a special place. It’s a sharp group and you will only make us better. If anything there helps keep your edge sharp, the fire God lit in you hot, your spirit from going soft and your mind from going to mush, we will all be glad.
Please return your seat to the upright position and give your infrared night vision goggles to the attendant as you exit to the rear. See you next post at geezeronthequad.com.