The One Thing That Is An End Unto Itself
The Way of Jesus is easily the most counter intuitive journey you will ever take. Once you start stumbling after Jesus, it doesn't take long for you to realize that when Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world," he wasn't joking.
Think about all of the ways that Jesus said this to his disciples and they still didn't get it at first:
"Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 10:39)
26 "But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26-28)
"And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3)
This message is so completely counter-intuitive for us in our current culture, isn't it? We are motivated by success, by bigger, better, stronger, faster, more efficient, higher profit margins... We obsess over looking younger, climbing corporate ladders, having more, doing more, being more...
And all the while Jesus continues to teach his followers that the Way to true joy, happiness, enlightenment, redemption and restoration is found by giving all of those things up and pursuing a relationship with God through Him.
I remember I preached once about this, and the idea of the desire of God being an end in itself. It's the only desire that truly is an end in itself. The desire for money never ends. The desire for power never ends. The desire for success never ends.
But when you desire a relationship with God, you find that you, along with all of your desires, are transformed as a result of that one desire. You soon discover that you no longer crave more of this world, and find yourself longing for things that are eternal, life-giving and kingdom-building.
As the poet Rumi wrote:
"Longing is the core of mystery. Longing itself brings the cure... Your desire must be disciplined, and what you want to happen in time, sacrificed."
May your desire for God overcome all other desires. May the Way of Christ be one that you enter into with humility and joy--knowing that simply stepping on to the path is the most challenging and important part of the journey.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.