Passions and The Unchanging Nature of God

What I'm Learning

Psalm 102:25-27

25 In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth,

   and the heavens are the work of your hands.

26 They will perish, but you remain;

   they will all wear out like a garment.

Like clothing you will change them

   and they will be discarded.

27 But you remain the same,

   and your years will never end.

Have you noticed that passions are fleeting? I know mine are. The things I was passionate about when I was younger don’t really matter to me anymore. Some things I was passionate about not even a few years ago don’t matter much to me anymore either.

Have you ever been disappointed when your hopes didn’t come true? I know I have. Unfortunately, even when we are at our best, things don’t always go the way we hope. People let us down. Sometimes they are happy, sometimes they aren’t, and we can’t change how they feel most of the time. As teachers, a common example is when our students sometimes don’t respond well to the lesson we spent hours preparing. Even our most fun lessons don’t always go well.

Our passions and hard work aren’t guaranteed to pay off. We work really hard to find the best for our students. We research best practices and work tirelessly to implement them. However, best practices come and go. What’s best now can be made irrelevant with new research.

It’s hard when we are disappointed by fallen hopes or other people, but it’s even tougher when we are responsible for disappointing ourselves. Sometimes we chase what we love and fall short, or maybe we get there, and it’s not what we expected. We are imperfect and make mistakes, and many times the consequences of our mistakes are very difficult.

A driving principle in our culture is to find what you are passionate about and pursue it as hard as you can for as long as you can. This seems to make sense, and there is nothing wrong with pursuing passions. I do it often. But, what happens when we find what we love, what we are most passionate about in this world, and we pursue it as much as possible, but we still aren’t satisfied?

This is a troubling spot to be in. It’s one I’ve been in many times, and it lead to depression and hurt.

So, why am I writing this? I love what C.S. Lewis said in his book, “Mere Christianity.”

“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

We were created and designed to be with a God whose nature and character never fades, never changes, is perfect, completely good, and who will satisfy our deepest longings and desires. Our passions, although not inherently bad, are ever changing and never meant to ultimately satisfy us. They are good things to be enjoyed, but they always point to something greater (1 Corinthians 10:31). Only the unchanging, loving God can satisfy all our deepest yearnings.

Psalm 16:11

You make known to me the path of life;
   in your presence there is fullness of joy;
   at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

John 10:10

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Hebrews 13:8

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Matthew 24:35

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

Numbers 23:19

“God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?”

Titus 1:2

“in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began”

The Gospel

Although our passions change and often let us down, God’s perfect character, nature and promises cannot change or fail, and He has promised eternal life with Him for those who put their faith and hope in Jesus. Let’s see the Gospel.

Titus 3:3-7
3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

The Gospel begins with tough news. Part of that tough news is the fact that we were or are “slaves to various passions and pleasures.” The passions that are ever changing and never living up to what they promise actually enslave us in a way that isn’t good for us. For me personally, one of the many ways this has played out is by hurting other people in order to pursue my passions. I’ve let people down, teared down others, and used others to pursue many of my passions (James 4:1). Even when I have not necessarily hurt others,  I’ve placed my hope in things that can’t satisfy the longings of my soul. This becomes crushing when the hopes are eventually not met.

However, the Gospel turns from tough news to the ultimate good news.

Titus 3:4-7

4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

God saves people not because we did anything to earn it, but because He is merciful and gracious. Through Jesus our Savior, God rescues and redeems people to eternal life. This gives us access to Him, and He will eventually satisfy all of our deepest longings. This won’t fully happen in this life, but even in our waiting, He teaches us and gives us the ability to have joy even in the midst of non-joyous circumstances.

One of the ways God saves people is by revealing the passions that enslave and then redirecting those passions to where they really should be aimed. We are all designed to worship, but unfortunately we all initially worship creation instead of the Creator, the only one worthy of our worship (Romans 1:25). This can be the case with our passions. We end up misplacing our worship by worshiping the object of our passion instead of enjoying it but ultimately worshiping God as the creator of it.

Now, I’m not saying we can’t be passionate about things and do those things. There is nothing wrong with being passionate. However, when those passions become our ultimate desires instead of good creations from God to enjoy and ultimately worship Him for, we are in a tough spot. So, at the very least, God has to reorient our passions in a way that’s good for us.

God goes after our worship because He wants us to have the fullest joy possible. As mere humans, we can’t figure out what truly brings us joy without His help. C.S. Lewis puts it brilliantly again:

“If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

As Titus 3:4 shows, it is out of God’s “goodness and loving kindness” that He makes us aware of our fleeting passions and their unhealthy grip on us. This is crucial to see because it isn’t a guilt trip or tyrannical behavior that God is using, it’s out of love. He saves us from worshiping creation and redirects our hearts to worship Him because He loves us. This is necessary because worshiping him is the only thing that will ultimately satisfy us. Worshiping creation will be enjoyable for moments but always let us down in the end.

Invitation

Are you feeling burdened and weary from the troubles of life? Are your passions fleeting? Have the things you hoped would satisfy you failed to live up to their promises? Are you tired of working so hard to achieve something only to see the rules of the world change?

Come to Him. He is an inexhaustible well.

John 4:13-15

13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

Jesus’ offer is on the table for any person, no matter who you are or what you’ve done. Come to the living water that will cause you never to be thirsty again. God has promised infinite joy in heaven for those who have faith in Jesus. Since God’s promises cannot change, we don’t have to worry about Him changing His mind. He is good and will always be good. He cannot lie. He cannot fail us. He is the only guarantee we can find.

This doesn’t mean everything will go well for us here on earth. We already know that’s not possible. Christian or not, we will all experience tough times at some point. However, God’s free gift of eternal life can never be taken away from us (Romans 8:31-39), and we can always hope in Him even in the midst of the troubles of this world. Jesus will be with you always (Matthew 28:20). Ask Him to take over the throne of your life. He is willing and able.

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