He is young, he is handsome, and he is hard working. He is thinking a lot about life, just finishing his second year of college. He recently had a break-up from a smashing girl, and misses the closeness, but realizes that there was so much wrong, so much missing there. Heck, I've known the young man since he was a wee lad, but now I even told him, 'You know, when I see you now, you aren't Dylan's former teammate, nor are you just my friend's son (though indeed he is both); when I see you and talk to you, I look at you like an adult, and we can have great conversations on that basis, you know?' Yeah, he got it, he knew.
I stopped into a pizza joint the other night for soup and salad to endeavor to write up my treatise on Islam, (A Trip into Iraq), in case you missed it; so I was there a couple hours, working on my computer-first sitting, then standing, then pretzeling to keep my back and neck from locking up. This afforded me the time to have an ongoing conversation with this kind, thinking man almost 21 years old. Telling him about the "IDENTITY: What's Yours?" series, I asked him what he believes about God now, knowing he has had a very sweet Christian faith . . . 'Well, I think I need to travel and experience a lot of different things before I can really know what I think about God, and what I believe... but I am thinking about it.' Hmmm . . .
This is what I've learned ~ all people--no matter their age or ethnicity
or social standing, no matter where they are in the world--need God.
And they find themselves looking to fill a hole inside that can only be
filled by God's great love. I am not talking about religion, but the greatest love there has ever been-the love of God for every individual. The great love of God changes everything, and once we find it, we are launched into the greatest adventure of our lives.
People are looking for God. Pascal had it right: There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.1
More than 2,000 years ago, the most important person ever to point people to Jesus came on the scene-John the Baptist. People flocked to the Judean desert to hear his message, which in itself was unusual, 'Repent!' Isaiah had prophesied that John would be the "voice crying out in the wilderness, 'prepare the way for the Lord; make his paths straight!"2
"Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins."3
Why would people travel some distance out to the backcountry to hear some wild and woolly-looking, desert-dweller preach at them? They were looking for God. You see, the culture they lived in was incredibly depraved, and any who were inclined to be at all righteous, were looking for the Messiah, wanting to be ready to receive him. Of the time, "It has been rightly said, that the idea of conscience, as we understand it, was unknown to heathenism. Absolute right did not exist. Might was right. The social relations exhibited, if possible, even deeper corruption. The sanctity of marriage had ceased, and there was almost an entire cessation of marriage. Abortion, and the exposure and murder of newly-born children, were common and tolerated; unnatural vices, which even the greatest philosophers practiced, if not advocated, attained proportions which defy description."4 Would you have guessed that about the first century into which Jesus was born? Winnie-the-Pooh said, 'think, think, think'...Read that description of the godless in the first-century culture. Does it resonate with you at all?
They were looking for God . . . God did not disappoint. 'When the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law'.
5 Matthew wrote, "Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by him."6 Indeed Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by John, not because he needed cleansing from sin, but rather to identify with us. Note the scene--all three persons of the Trinity fully represented in one event, just like at the dawn of Creation. The Father speaks, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased"7, and the Spirit anoints the Son. [The Trinity is a key element of the biblical Christian faith]
Don't miss the point: when people earnestly look for God, they find him. Since man was conceived of in the heart of God, he has made himself available to all, saying:
"Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me,
and I will listen to you.
And you will seek Me and find Me,
When you search for me with all your heart."8
Isn't that just like God? People are looking for God, but first, he looked for them.
Back to my young friend the other night. On one of his pass bys, I felt the unction to tell him something I'm not sure I've ever said to anyone, which I gathered from knowing a lot about his heart, which trickles out when he talks about life. "You are meant to walk with God-not someday when you think you have all the answers, but now. It is who you are, Garrett." He heard me.
One thing I'm sure of - people are looking for God, whether they know it or not.
1 - Blaise Pascal, French mathmetician and philosopher
2 - Isaiah 40.3
3 - Matthew 3.5-6
4 - Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Alfred Edersheim
5 - Galatians 4.4, NASB; 6 - Matthew 3.13; 7 - Matthew 3.16-17, paraphrased; 8 - Jeremiah 29.12-13