Bruce Springsteen famously sang:
‘Everybody needs a place to rest;
Everybody wants to have a home.
Don’t make no difference what nobody says,
Ain’t nobody like to be alone.
Everybody’s got a hungry heart.’
He’s right. All of us are all wired with particular needs, desires, longings and appetites. Whether it’s for physical things like Springsteen identifies – home, a place to rest – or the deeper things that they represent – community, acceptance, love – we all have hungry hearts.
Some people assume that Christianity is all about denying your hungers; pretending they don’t exist, and living a life of self-denial and asceticism. Well certainly Christianity has lots to say about self- discipline, and certain hungers are healthier than others. But have you ever stopped to ask yourself where our hungers come from? And might it be that the Creator who sees and knows our hearts may also have wired our hearts to hunger the way they do?
There are many questions and longings that are universal. All of us have hungry hearts that yearn for things like meaning, purpose, fulfilment, and acceptance. And rather than robbing us of these things, the promise of Christianity is that God is uniquely able to meet these needs.
The fourth century Church Father Augustine prayed: ‘You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.’
Jesus put it like this: ‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’ (John 10:10)
This Sunday we are beginning a new sermon series entitled Encounters With Jesus. In this series, we will be looking at individuals in John’s gospel, who had the same longings as we do, and who found answers through meeting Jesus.
Whether you are already a follower of Jesus, or beginning to consider the big questions of life, we hope it will be a useful series, which will help us all find the vibrant kind of ‘life to the full’ that our hungry hearts are seeking.
You can check out the calendar to find out what we will be covering each week. And if you would like some recommended resources to read alongside the series, here are a few suggestions:
Tim Keller has written three books, which we think you will find helpful.
Encounters with Jesus (from which we stole the title for this series!) is a great, accessible book, looking at how Jesus provides answers to our deepest questions. It will cover similar ground to our sermon series, but focusing on some different stories from the gospels.
The Reason for God is divided into two halves. The first explores a number of objections that people often have to the Christian faith, while the second unpacks some reasons why Christianity is plausible. If you are at all interested in exploring Christianity, this book is well worth reading.
But maybe you’re a stage further back? Perhaps you suspect religious faith has nothing to offer in a sceptical age. In that case, Making Sense of God is a great place to start. Serving like a prequel to The Reason for God, this book makes the case that religion has a vital role to play in meeting the needs that all of us have – for meaning, satisfaction, freedom, identity, justice and hope – in ways that no other philosophy can. It’s not an easy book, but it is well worth the effort.
Or perhaps you would like to read books that will help you think about the person of Jesus:
Simply Jesus is a great book that seeks to answer three questions about Jesus: Who was he? What did he do? Why does it matter? In this book, Tom Wright helps us to understand Jesus in his original context, clearing up many misconceptions about Jesus, and helping us to see him as his contemporaries did, and as he wanted us to.
Or you may enjoy Philip Yancey’s The Jesus I Never Knew. This accessible book helps us to look afresh at who Jesus is, showing how many have misunderstood and misapplied his teachings. Yancey works through the story of Jesus – his birth, life, teaching, miracles, death and resurrection – painting a compelling picture of a Saviour who is uniquely able to change lives.