Somehow, our affluent life style has produced an odd thinking pattern which seems to prevail in most Christian families. That pattern pronounces that finding happiness and fulfillment is equivalent to achieving God’s willed in our life. (‘I just want my kids to be happy.’)  The concept is even articulated in the American Bill of Rights (right to the “pursuit of happiness”). Most Christians are blissfully ignorant of the driving force (selfishness) behind that thinking pattern. Getting caught up in the pressures of daily life in a materialistic culture actually enslaves us to that very concept.

The more entrepreneurial Christians among us totally surrender to the concept and make it their life’s ambition to achieve it, all the time thinking that they are driven by the Holy Spirit.  Most often, the concept of success turns out to be defined by worldly values, so these entrepreneurs end up chasing money and power, under the guise of spirituality. And they find that, no matter how much they chase, they never reach the point of ‘enough’. Those of us not so entrepreneurial simply find reassurance in the people around us being focused this way.  It makes us feel less convicted when we find our own inner desires to be similar.  The bottom line is this: Christian or non-Christian, we seek fulfillment as our primary goal. And we monitor progress towards achieving it by short-lived feelings of gratification, which mimic true fulfillment.

The world has long been driven by selfishness. Christians believe they have found the answer.  It is restoration of our relationship with God, by choosing to accept the offer on the table:  the free gift of eternal life by asking Jesus into our heart. God calls us out of the world, into His Kingdom. Why then, after receiving Him, do most of us still find ourselves stuck in the old thinking pattern? And how do we find freedom from it? 


This leads us to an apparent conundrum in the Gospel message.  On the one hand, God presents us with the Gospel, (He not being willing that any should perish), and waits patiently to see if we choose to accept the free gift of salvation.  On the other hand, our names (those who accept) were written in the Book of Life before the foundations of the world were laid (i.e. before Creation). He confirms this by telling us: "You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you!" (John 15:16) 

So which is true?  Do we choose Him or is it the other way around? In that mystical spiritual realm, which we have such great difficulty understanding, both are true.  I have dealt with this in some detail in my essay "The Big Picture".  It has to do with God's omniscience and foreknowledge.  It has to do with the fact that in eternity time does not exist. He knew beforehand, in fact before He created us, that we would choose to receive His gift.  Accordingly, we have been 'pre-destined' to become sons of God (Romans 8 and Ephesians 1). Yet, in the midst of all of that, He created the potential for us to make a free-will decision, the vital qualification to make the choice meaningful. If we didn't have free-will, we would be mere robots, pre-programmed to do His bidding. Free-will is what distinguishes 'fate' from 'pre-destination'.

But it is the criteria defining the reason for our choice that is crucial in determining the final outcome. WHY did we choose Him? 


Upon receiving Jesus, we enter into renewed fellowship with our Creator. We accept His death and resurrection as having paid the price for our shortcomings and failures.  But no matter how overwhelmed we are at first, we find in due course we still long for other things. Comfort and security are important.  We find enjoyment in some of the things frowned upon by others.  We discover in dismay that not all Christians are as 'spiritual' as they make out to be. There are shocks to the system when our good intentions are either misinterpreted or taken advantage of.  We discover that the congregation has been infiltrated by a few conmen who are out to exploit the euphoria experienced by new Christians and the mindset generated by sermon content. And then in our disillusionment, we suddenly realise that the ideals we expected to reign supreme in our lives, after accepting Christ, are still elusive. Not only are many of the Christians around us a disappointment, but we ourselves still fall a long way off the mark!

Do the material, psychological, and emotional elements of this world make you happy? Do you find that the endless pursuit of the great variety of entertaining options our western society offers results in a sense of completeness? Or do you still crave for something more?  Do you still secretly dream of winning the lottery? Do people who have made a billion dollars feel fulfilled?  How long do you feel good after the new car, new house, holiday, fridge, gym membership, movie pass, or what have you, enters your life? Or are these things transient substitutes for something else?  Something you can't even put a name to. Yet something that deep down, if we are really honest with ourselves, we all recognise as a round hole that only a round peg will fill.


God made us. He, in His wisdom, made us this way. We are truly fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139).  The incredible design evident in His creation now has scientists falling over themselves to reverse-engineer Nature. How does a bee hover? How does a spider spin a web?  How does a cockroach survive a nuclear explosion? How does a bird fly? How come a fly doesn't fall off the ceiling? Can we use DNA to make a super computer? The rain forest, even while it is dying to provide wood chips in our garden, holds mysteries we haven't even begun to know exist, let alone understand. Even as the oceans are being depleted of fish, sea weed is now recognised as an unbelievable source of untapped potential cures for a myriad of ills.  There are a thousand, no a trillion, questions that God's brilliance answered at the beginning of everything. Yet these same scientists can't conceive of something beyond the material realm. At the mere mention of spiritual things, their minds shut down, their arrogance kicks in, and the dogged insistence that everything has a material explanation takes over. The same people who can visualise parallel universes, cannot visualise a spiritual realm.  It is so weird, it boggles my mind and leaves me asking where on earth they are coming from.

God made us body, soul and spirit (see my essay by that name). And in His brilliant conception of things, He included a side of us for which material reasoning does not hold answers. Somewhere deep inside us is a round hole only Jesus can fill.  It is so brilliant in its design, that not even a smaller square peg can partially fill that space. It is a spiritual place. True, there is other spiritual space inside of us, which can be occupied by other spiritual entities or things. But this space is reserved for Jesus.  We were designed to be in love with Him! Consequently, until we are, we will continue to be unfulfilled.  


God designed pain as an alarm system to tell us something is physically wrong. Lepers don't develop sores and rotting limbs because the disease has taken over. Leprosy affects the ability to feel pain, in fact, it numbs the sense of touch.  As a result, the sufferer may break a toe and not know it. He will kick that toe until the bones pierce the skin and infection sets in. In underdeveloped countries, people with leprosy can have rats eating their limbs while they are sleeping. (A good reference on this subject is 'Where is God when it hurts?' by Philip Yancey, Zondervan Books). There is no doubt that physical pain is a very necessary protection, designed to ensure our physical survival.

In the same way, that nagging doubt you can’t articulate, which raises its ugly head every so often, breaking through the multitude of things that occupy our brains, is an alarm going off. It’s signalling that a vital part of our design is not working properly.  We are dying! The only thing that will save us is to get that part working again!


God’s way of thinking doesn’t prescribe happiness and fulfillment in this life as our primary goal.  His purpose isn’t centred on what we can’t take with us, but rather on what we can (treasures in heaven). It’s not that He wants us to be poor, or constantly struggling to survive.  He wants our eyes on Him, totally in love,blissfully unaware of our own need or absence of need. Do any of us remember that feeling? I'll bet you remember being in love with a girlfriend or boyfriend - that utterly consuming passion, where nothing else in this whole world matters. Where the only thing that counts is that the other feels the same way and you can't wait to be together again.

Have you ever been in love with Jesus like that?  If anything, our love for Jesus should surpass the feeling of man and woman in love. It should go deeper than that, on an emotional, intellectual and spiritual level. He wants us trusting, full of faith that He knows best and will provide whatever best suits His purpose for our lives. And confident that He won’t serve up anything we can’t cope with.  He wants us to be aware of His constant presence; and longing for that awareness when we become preoccupied with other things.  He wants us to know our feelings are returned.

And then, (in that incredible way He has of surprising us with things that don’t fit into the secular grind), we find our life and soul filled with inexplicable happiness and purpose far more satisfying than any selfish goal could ever hold out false promises for. More than we could ever imagine. It is gaining your soul by giving it up.  It is filling your life, by not filling it up yourself. Being in love with Jesus surely is the most fulfilling state of consciousness we can possibly attain.


“Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33 NASB)


Most of us are stuck in the rut of secular reasoning.  We see a problem and try to find the solution. (I am told women aren’t interested in solving the problem, they just want to talk about it!) The problem we detect is lack of fulfillment.  Our reasoning tells us we must therefore find and execute things that are fulfilling.  What can they be?  Usually we come up with things that feed our ego. Unfulfillment and low self-esteem, the shrinks tell us, often go hand in hand.

So we try to fill that ache or emptiness with anything from relationships to entertainment to drugs.  And none of it satisfies.

The hole is God-shaped.  Jesus came so God could fill it up again. The answer we have not wanted to hear is the Gospel. It’s there in black and white, and sometimes red, in the Bible. If we do things God’s way, we can find the kind of fulfillment that lasts.


Having a body of truly fulfilled Christians on this Earth will be the most awesome and beautiful thing to behold, and the most powerful testimony to the truth of the Gospel message ever.

(And the beholders will be the unsaved souls out there.)

What don’t we like about God?  We don’t like it that what He tells us doesn’t make sense to us. We wish He would think and express Himself more as a human than as God.  When our body and mind scream in need, it goes against every grain of our humanity to address the problem by thinking about Him and others, instead of putting self first.