The whole transaction of religious conversion has been made mechanical and spiritless. Faith may now be exercised without a jar to the moral life and without embarrassment to the Adamic ego. Christ may be ‘received’ without creating any special love for Him in the soul of the receiver. The man is ‘saved,’ but he is not hungry nor thirsty after God. In fact, he is specifically taught to be satisfied and is encouraged to be content with little.
~A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God
Tozer has an uncanny knack for stopping me in my tracks.
i see in myself, and in so many of my brothers and sisters, what Tozer is describing here.
One of the great riches that has been stolen from believers in recent times is a holy discontent; namely, a dissatisfaction with the spiritlessness and the littleness of God that we are often told is all we are entitled to experience.
It creeps in with such subtle effectiveness. And it is deadly.
What we are left with is an experience with God that begins and ends with salvation. Rather than salvation as the door through which we walk to access authentic and vibrant life — the life that is truly life, as we read in 1 Timothy — we are taught to want nothing with regard to our spiritual lives.
Our relationship with God is not really that much of a relationship. Instead, it’s a diploma that allows us to graduate to Heaven. But then Heaven is depicted in terms that — quite frankly, if we are brutally honest — do not stir our hearts.
This has tragic implications for all believers. We wrongly decide that life is up to us; we have to figure it out and make it work. The mistakes we have made, as well as the mistakes others have made that affected us, are what define us and somehow we must try to overcome those — but in our strength.
Healing and restoration are categories of thought that remain abstract, if they are discussed at all. Somehow it becomes spiritual; it becomes a sign of Christian maturity, to insist that God could do something for us, but He won’t because this — whatever this is — is our cross to bear.
The condition of being satisfied with little concerning our relationship with God has serious consequences for men who are struggling with porn and lust.
Quite simply: desire and contentment have been completely reversed from what God has for us. We know this because of what Jesus said. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus told us that “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
Jesus seemed to understand that a healthy relationship with God constituted being hungry, not easily satisfied. And in that hunger, God would meet us and fill us. Meanwhile, we would be less and less hungry for the things of this world: He added that we should “Seek first the Kingdom of God” and all the things of this life would be taken care of.
These relationships have been reversed. We are taught to be content with small things in relation to God, and we go chasing the contentment we seek in the things of this world. This is, in a manner of speaking, precisely what happens every time we run to lust or porn.
Desire can never be denied. It either comes out in fleshly indulgence, or it gets directed to — and satisfied in — God. David knew this and was unashamed to say that his soul “panted after” God (Ps. 42:1).
In fact, if we do not learn to find our joy, our pleasure and even our ecstasy in God, we will find it in very dark places.
A mechanical, spiritless and little relationship to God will inevitably lead us to seek our pleasure and fulfillment in those dark places.