What do you crave? Cravings can have many forms. Probably the most common craving that we think of is something to eat. After living most of my life in the Midwest, I moved to another country, where I lived for the next 19 years. One thing you notice about cravings is that you often crave what you can’t have. When I was in Istanbul, I sometimes would crave things that weren’t available there. When I was in the United States, I found myself craving familiar tastes from Turkey. This is a common trait with ex-pats. Even though you may be surrounded by delicious food that would make most people jealous, it is normal for ex-pats to long for their favorite candy or fast food guilty pleasure that is inaccessible to them while abroad.
Some other cravings could be missed experiences, desires or possessions. We can become obsessed with all these things. People often daydream about their desires, wishing for happiness through acquisition. This can be incredibly unsatisfying. Food is actually a wonderful comparison for all cravings, because we have all experienced the fact that we will hunger again, even after our desires have been satisfied by our most sought after craving. This is obvious with food, but doesn’t stop us from having the craving again. This is because the things we pursue are not lasting. It is described like this in 1 John:
We usually love what is in front of us. If we primarily love the things of the world, it is because our vision and our hearts are filled with the things of the world. We crave these things because that is what our appetites have been built upon. In the scenario that John describes, the love of the world fills the person, driving out the love of God. When we fill up our life with other things, which we see and hear everywhere that we turn, we lose sight of God. John writes, “this world is fading away”. In other words, it doesn’t last. It is temporary.
A friend of mine used to dismiss this perspective with the phrase, “It’s all gonna burn.” He had picked that up from a talk that we had heard on this subject. That is a harsher way of describing what John is describing when he says it is fading away. John is getting at the temporal, passing nature of placing our hope and satisfaction in the world. The irony of these statements is your ability to receive them as truth depends on your status. If you are immersed in the world, you will hear these things and condemn the preacher as “no fun”, “Judgmental”, or “just trying to control me”. If you are hearing from God, you then see the love of the Father in these statements. God is telling you these things, not for His benefit, but for ours.
God knows how hard it is to live a life in pursuit of everything that is empty and meaningless. Throughout all creation, He has seen over and over this pursuit of the fading shadows of temporal dissatisfaction. God, in His love for us, calls for us to crave something different. He wants us to find our satisfaction not in the fading, but in the lasting, in eternity. As young, immature Christians, we might begrudge God some of His commands that lead us away from these pleasures of addiction, but lasting faith leads to a depth of understanding that allows us to see the insignificance of these idols.
God’s love for us is given for us to move on from insignificance and a love of this world. We move towards a love of God, which can give us a love for this world that is properly in balance. This allows us to see the world according to the economy of God, where the value of eternal things is in front of us, hiding in plain sight in the midst of all the things we previously craved. With this perspective, they will fade away and we can experience the heart cry of desire for meaning and things that matter and will last. Then we can set aside the things that are fading every day.