Ever have that feeling that you’re just missing something in your life? Oh of course you do. Everyone at some point in their life has that exact feeling, that exact problem, and that nagging itch in the pit of their stomach that things are simply incomplete. In fact we wouldn’t have most of the cool technology that we have now without that itch. It’s that notion that there is a better something out there that pushes us out of bed, into rush hour traffic, and through the business day. It makes us get married, have children, save for retirement, seek new jobs, make up new inventions. As human beings we are programmed genetically to keep going and to keep getting better.
Look at sports, for example. Athletes push their bodies further and further every year in the search to be the best, and at some point in time that record will fall (except for Richard Petty’s wins in NASCAR, and only because they changed all the rules). Every day I feel like I see a new commercial for a vitamin something or other that promises to take my body to the next level. If it isn’t a vitamin, it’s a new workout to give me better abs, or a more ripped physique. Problem for me is that my genetic ambition has very little to do with my physique. Regardless of my physical laziness and pathetic excuses, there is still a drive that will not let me accept where I am at.
Let me pause here and answering a screaming critical voice in my head. Yes, there are some people who say that they have gone far enough and they simply accept their circumstance, they accept wherever they are in life as the perpetual state of being. That is not the majority of the human population, and given a real close look at those people, we will find some very mitigating circumstances in their lives that have led them to that point.
What is it that drives our genetic ambition? Why are we wired in such a way to seek the new and the better? I have two answers for you. Hopefully, this will spark some discussion amongst us, thus pushing us in the direction of my thesis.
Firstly, and please forgive my terrible biology skills, we are driven as a species to get better because that is what keeps us on the top of the food chain. If we are constantly seeking something better, as a species we keep going. I assume it is a generally accepted fact that organisms are genetically programmed to continue living and to produce offspring thus maintaining the population. Again, I have no degrees in biology so don’t quote me there. It just makes sense to me that no creature wants to be the last of its kind. If we follow that line of thinking, then we see that, humans, by continually seeking to make our lives easier, better, more stress free, we are following that genetic code that tells us to keep going as a species.
Secondly, and this is where I feel I have more of an authoritative voice, we are spiritually unhappy. Something is simply missing in our lives. We try to wish it away with money, with objects, with substances, and with relationships. Somehow those things just do not fill us up; they do not satisfy the longing in us for something far greater. In many cases the spiritual hole that I am speaking of is from the sad state of our sinful nature. The only entity that can fill a God-sized hole in our hearts is in fact, God. But what do those of us who follow, and worship God do when we feel that itch still nagging at our insides? How do we answer a longing that many of us feel we should not have?
Sadly, many who are arguably devout in their faith try to stop the itch by filling their lives with the wrong things. Rather than seeking more of what God has for us, we seek what the world has for us. I say we, because … well, yeah I’ve done that. I have no problem admitting my faith or my faults to anyone. I also have no problem with telling you that I long for something greater, something bigger and more spectacular than what I have now, and I do not count that as sin. What I consider that longing to be is a combination of two things (yes, two more answers).
First (or third), I feel driven for something better because inside I know that I can always do better and that until I am not breathing anymore, I’m still capable of doing something. Now, that may be the way I was raised, but I think the nature of that behavior is more than upbringing. If I technically have everything I need, then why do I need to do anymore; simply because I am not content with simply existing as livestock. That drive is what separates us from the rest of the animals. We were created differently, or if you prefer, we evolved differently (again, we have the cool toys and the monkeys don’t).
Secondly, Christians feel that nagging inside because we were never made to be happy outside of the perfection God has for us. I know short paragraph right. It’s a simple answer, God had a plan, Adam and Eve made a mistake that cost us paradise on earth, and thus we have our fallen world. Thus we have our discontentment with Earth. We, as God’s children were made for life in the presence of our creator, and we will never be truly happy, or rather completely content until we are indeed with Him.
I have no problem believing that God wrote our genetic code to seek after such things to remind us that the perfection we seek is found in Him.
(Brian Hammond is youth pastor at Zion Hill Baptist Church in Buford.)