I was recently conversing with a good friend about the spiritual condition of the Church. He made a comment that I am sure is not exclusive to him, but struck me deeply: “We are not desperate enough yet.”
It caused me to wonder, Am I desperate?
I want to ask you a question: Are you desperate? I realize there are several different ways you may go about answering the question. You may think there is a wrong or right answer; a particular answer that I am looking for by asking the question.
You may feel that you are not desperate, that you have all you need. Maybe that is because you are a Christian and believe Christ is all you need. That is a solid answer. Maybe you are not a Christian but know you are not desperate because you have great material wealth and status. That, too, is an answer.
You could, however, be on the opposite end of the possible answers. You know you are desperate. You do not have all you need. Hunger is a real threat to your survival. You struggle to pay your bills. You find yourself sinking deeper into debt. When you see the question you know that you are desperate and your needs are great.
Think with me about this question: Are you desperate for God? That changes things entirely. Many of you reading this have a relationship with God and therefore do not believe it necessary to find Him. You have found Him or, more appropriately, He has found you. This is where I want to direct us while both cautioning and encouraging my fellow believers.
I believe the Bible shows a clear pattern of the necessity of being desperate for God. The pattern goes something like this: God calls someone to Himself who is desperate, they follow for a while, they slowly become less desperate for God, their relationship is ultimately ruined, they are separated from God, they become desperate once again, God calls them…
I think this pattern is present throughout the biblical storyline. However, for our purposes, we start at the beginning. I want to dissuade us from getting to a place where we are no long desperate for God. I want to caution us against the comforts of easy Christian living and remind us that those people who were called by God in the Bible found their relationship with Him in shambles when they stopped being desperate. Let’s look at the beginning of the biblical storyline with the pinnacle of God’s creation, Adam.
You might think that Adam was not desperate for God. He lived in perfection as the manager of the Lord’s garden. However, he was desperate for God. All his hope was in God. He knew nothing but full dependence on the Lord. The Lord had breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life and Adam lived in perfect relationship with the Lord. However, that desperation is questioned. “Did God actually say, “You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” the serpent says to Eve, Adam’s wife. “Do you have to be truly desperate for the Lord?” he is saying. “Must you be fully dependent upon Him?” This provided Adam an opportunity to rebuff the serpent, lead his wife, and declare his dependence on God.
Adam’s answer has had repercussions throughout the rest of human history. Adam does not speak, but rather takes the very fruit that he has been commanded not to eat and consumes it. His actions state boldly to his wife and the serpent, “I am not desperate for God, there is another place I can find my hope!” This answer destroys His relationship with His Creator.
Our God does not want us desperate for anyone or anything else. Ultimately Adam blames his failing on Eve who in turn blames the serpent. However, blame is inconsequential. The damage is done and the relationship is broken because Adam ceased to be desperate for God—his hope was elsewhere. Adam and Eve are removed from the garden, forced to toil, feel pain, and eventually die. Adam’s curse is passed down from generation to generation. Because he stopped being desperate for God, he fell into sin’s trapped and condemned the world.
God does not abandon Adam. We read the encouraging words of Genesis 4:26:
To Seth (Adam’s son) also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord.
After murder and pain, people began to call upon the Lord. People once again realized that they were desperate for Him.
It is not too late to be desperate for the Lord. It is not too late for the Church to call on His name. It is not too late for the message of Christ to permeate our hearts and direct our paths. Time is still available to shrug off our self-reliance and embrace our utter inability to do anything apart from the love mercy of Christ. However, we must acknowledge and understand our desperation. We can no longer remain dependent on ourselves. We must be desperate for the Lord.