Project 2: The Search for Satisfaction
We are all on a search for satisfaction. Every person is seeking satisfaction, though not everyone realizes it. Most would describe their search for satisfaction in other ways, but certainly all people are longing for happiness, peace, enlightenment, or significance in their life.
This search is natural, because we all naturally do it.
However at the same time, this search profoundly unnatural because it is not what God originally intended for us. God had a perfect design for us. That we would live in perfect harmony with Him and His creation. In this original perfect design, we had full satisfaction with nothing was lacking. There was no search for satisfaction because nothing was missing.
But mankind, rejected God and His perfect design and chose to go their own way. This way led us into brokenness and we lost our satisfaction.
Because God designed us to be fully satisfied, we each have a longing for what is missing.
Whether we consciously identified this longing or not, we move through life seeking that which would satisfy. We move from toy to toy, relationship to relationship, experience to experience, job to job, place to place, seeking the satisfaction that is missing.
People pursue power, pleasure, and wealth.
Sadly, these things don’t satisfy. Many of them are not just lacking, they are destructive.
Many search for satisfaction in religion. Sadly, religion too falls short in the search. Even Christianity falls far short of satisfying.
The only thing that does not fall short is Jesus.
Jesus truly satisfies our longing.
One barrier to being satisfied in Jesus is “cultural christianity.”
Sadly when many people are searching for satisfaction, they find themselves in a church or in a conversation with a Christian but they don’t hear the good news about Jesus, they hear about “cultural christianity.”
This might be a part of your story, and you might need to unlearn “cultural christianity” as a part of your pursuit of true satisfaction in Jesus alone.
Cultural Christianity describes much of our society today, many of our families, and even many churches. Cultural Christianity is a devotion to Christian values and Christian traditions, but without actually experiencing the abundant life of Christ.
Cultural Christians might initially be hard to distinguish from true followers of Jesus. And cultural christianity might initially be hard to distinguish from the Way of Jesus. But once God gives you eyes to see it, you will not be able to “unsee” it.
Cultural Christians may have great morals based on their “Christian values.” They may have an intricate set of rules they live by. They may go to church every week and might even hold some church office like deacon. They may read the Bible every day. They may have a strong devotion to a denomination or a version of the Bible.
But sadly, cultural christians can have this kind of life without ever actually experiencing the life of Jesus and being a true follower of Him. Devotion to “Christianity” without actually following Jesus is just another religion. Any religion, including Christianity, working to earn righteousness before God is actually repulsive to God. Plus it does not satisfy. So there is clearly no good news in cultural christianity.
While Cultural Christianity is repulsive to God, the cultural christians might not look repulsive. They probably make great neighbors because they don’t cause trouble. You want to work with because they work hard and don’t cheat. You want your kids to play with their kids because they are well behaved.
So how do we know the difference between cultural christianity and the ways of Jesus?
To answer this, let’s talk about the Treasury Department and counterfeit currency. When the Treasury Department trains its agents to spot counterfeit currency, they don’t actually give them counterfeit currency and teach them what is wrong with it and how to spot it.
Instead they give them real currency and teach them examine it closely and deeply. They spend lots and lots of time with real currency. They are taught to “touch, tilt, look at, look through.”
As they have lots of experience with real currency, the counterfeit currency just feels “wrong.”
Let us not fall for counterfeit cultural christianity. Let us be true disciples of Jesus. Let us be true learners and students of Him. People who experience Jesus and the life He gives. Let us encounter Him and spend time with Him. Let us read His ways in the Bible. Let us study them deeply. Let us learn to tell His stories in our own words.
When we pursue the real Jesus, the counterfeit cultural christianity will be easier to recognize even when it changes forms over the years. It is important for us to recognize this in ourselves, because we will often fall into cultural christianity and the performance mindset.
Christianity and performance will never satisfy, so we have to recognize it in ourselves so that we can unlearn it. This unlearning is an important part following Jesus and enjoying Him. Trying to follow Jesus while also continuing the performance parts of cultural christianity will keep us from truly enjoying Jesus.
The real problem with cultural Christianity is that it is really just another religion. And when we pursue religion, it ends always falls short of in our search for satisfaction.
When something falls short in satisfying, we will just keep pursuing the next thing that we think will satisfy. So people try cultural christianity, and then move on to something else without ever experiencing Jesus.
Some people keep up this pursuit their whole lives. Others despair that they will never find it. When this despair is great, people even think of ending their own lives.
Let us end our search. Let us help others end their search. Let us especially be people that will help those we know see the true Jesus and not cultural christianity.
Jesus has good news for all who are searching for satisfaction.
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you will recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
- Matthew 11 The Message
Jesus Himself is the only thing that will satisfy. He offers us full satisfaction in Himself.
I am the bread of life: whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. (John 6:35)
I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh. (John 6:51)
If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water,’ (John 7:37)
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. (John 8:12)
Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am. (John 8:58)
I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. (John 10:9)
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11)
I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. (John 11:25)
I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)
How you found your satisfaction in Jesus?
Maybe reading these words from Jesus helps you start seeking satisfaction in Him alone.
Maybe you have been on the journey with Jesus, while at the same time pursuing satisfaction in others things. This is normal, but this is also idolatry.
The solution to this idolatry is to pursue satisfaction in Jesus alone.
Only Jesus will truly satisfy.
However most of us are not living in that truth. We often have the idea that
“Jesus plus __________ will satisfy.”
If we are seeking satisfaction in Jesus plus anything else, we will not experience the full satisfaction that Jesus offers. To enjoy Jesus, we must purse satisfaction in him alone.
It is helpful to identify what is competing with Jesus in your search for satisfaction. In the “Jesus plus __________ will satisfy” scenario, what is in that blank for you?
Understanding all of this will help you make sense of your spiritual journey with Jesus.
When you first turn from your own way and trust in Jesus, He gives you a satisfaction that you have never experienced before. This is the initial satisfaction. We enjoy Jesus in a way we never have before.
Then as a follower of Jesus when you pursue you satisfaction in Jesus alone, your satisfaction grows and deepens. But if you pursue Jesus alongside other competing and lesser things, then you don’t experience deep satisfaction in Jesus. Our enjoyment of Jesus is directly related to pursuing satisfaction in Him alone. This is how we enjoy Jesus.
Then to look forward, there will come a time when we experience the full satisfaction of Jesus with no temptations for lesser things, and our joy in Jesus will be complete.
Your story of searching for satisfaction and then following Jesus is one of your most important stories. First, reflect on your story by answering these prompts.
I searched for satisfaction in my life by pursuing…
This search left me feeling…
I heard about Jesus from…
I become interested in Jesus because…
I trusted in Jesus and followed Him because…
After following Jesus, I felt…
Jesus has changed me…
from ____________________ to ____________________
from ____________________ to ____________________
from ____________________ to ____________________
Next you will craft these elements into a story that you can tell to others. This story, once written, is a beautiful way to introduce yourself and the good news of Jesus to others.
Don’t feel like this story needs to be perfect. This draft will not be your final version. Just write your first version. Because you have to have a first version before you have a final version.
Your group will provide generous feedback to help you develop your story. So the goal is to write something to start the discussion.
Look back over your answers in part 1 and look for highlights to share. You will not necessarily use everything from part 1. Just pick the highlights.
Read the following tips on how to tell a good story. Then write out your first draft and post your story to your blog.
Jesus was a masterful story teller. We have a lot to learn from not just the truths in His stories, but also how He told stories. His stories were just a few minutes in length. He used common words and language. He jumped right into the story without unnecessary boring context. He used imagery to help you picture what was going on in the story.
As followers of Jesus, let us learn story telling from the master. Let us become great story tellers. Great story tellers are not born. They are made through practice. Story telling is a skill that can be developed. Followers of Jesus could be the best story tellers in the world. We have the master to learn from and we have the greatest story to tell.
Here are story telling tips to use when you write your transformed life story.
Make the story about 3 minutes in length.
Jump right into a story, don’t bore your listener with too much context.
Use word pictures to give imagery to your story. Examples.
Go for interesting, concise, and memorable over detailed.
Since most people are “spiritual” or say they believe in God, be sure to emphasis Jesus in your story.
Avoid “Christianeze,” the are words that are used in christian circles, but are not in common use outside those circles. Here are some examples of Christianeze: redeemed, saved, under the blood, righteousness, walked the aisle.”
Talking about how you felt before and after Jesus makes your story personal and relatable to many people. Talking about a specific list of sins from before Jesus may not connect well with people.
For your project, write your three minute transformed life story and post that to your blog.
Important note: This project assumes you have had a life transforming experience with Jesus. If you have not yet had a life transforming encounter with Jesus, then obviously you will not have that story to tell others. Maybe you are not a follower of Jesus yet. Maybe you are unsure of where you are on the journey. Maybe you are searching. Maybe you thought you were a follower of Jesus until you tried to do this exercise.
All of this is okay! We are for you. We love engaging people in different places in the journey. If you don’t have a changed life already, certainly don’t feel any pressure to make something up for this project.
You still have a story. You can simply write where you are in the journey. Maybe even include what obstacles you have to fully trusting in Jesus and following him.
Post your three minute story to your blog by
Sunday, January 13, before your meeting.
Feedback is due by
Tuesday, January 15, at 11:59 PM
Your Reflection Summary is due by
Thursday, January 17, before your meeting.