Power, Money, and Sex Won’t Satisfy
Guest Post by Cody Swartz
The legendary athlete Deion Sanders wrote a book titled, Power, Money, and Sex: How Success Almost Ruined My Life. The book chronicles Deion’s upbringing from a record-breaking high school athlete in Florida to a two-sport professional star and the first man ever to play in both the World Series and the Super Bowl. Despite his success and fame, Deion talked openly about his insecurities and his never-ending hunger and thirst for happiness, especially from power, money, and sex.
Contrary to what Deion may think, he’s not alone in this struggle, as countless Christians and non-Christians have fought through the same issues. We’ve all grasped for identity through materialistic items that only lead to long-term pain. My own personal trials and tribulations have included battles with self-worth, body image, lust, anxiety, and worldly pleasures. At times, I’ve masqueraded as a righteous and godly man while battling inner demons that offer instant gratification but damage my relationship with Jesus Christ. These struggles aren’t new to our generation; finding joy in what pleases the eye has been around since the Garden of Eden.
Even having grown up in a church-going family with two loving parents, I have a tendency to read the Bible and assume the men and women in God’s Word had it “all figured out.” They didn’t have the problems that we have today. They sat around praising Jesus and singing hymns and washing each other’s feet all day, right?
Well, not really. David was an insecure backstabber who compromised a life-long friendship with Uriah to steal Bathsheba, his best friend’s wife – and then arrange for the death of Uriah. We all know about Samson’s struggles with women. Or consider Peter. In the final days that he spent with Jesus before Christ’s death, Peter denied knowing Him not once, not twice, but three times. And Moses killed a man – a crime that would get you 25 to life in today’s society.
Do you remember the story in the Bible of Jesus feeding the 5,000 with five loaves of bread and two fish? In John 6:22–59, we read about what happened right after that story. Now, the people who flocked to Jesus weren’t murderers or adulterers, at least not that we know of. They were merely hungry – although you could throw other words in there as well: needy, ungrateful, clingy, and possibly unbelieving.
Here’s what happened. After feeding the 5,000 people – Jesus, a likely introvert before the word was readily used to describe people – got into his boat and crossed to the other side of the lake. The people found Him and they immediately made their earthly desires known: give us more food. Jesus was merely a means of satisfying their hunger. They were consumers. The Son of Man was right in front of them, but they didn’t want Him; they wanted Him to snap his fingers and prepare another buffet. And what happened 2,000 years ago, too often, still happens today.
When it’s exam day for that certification we’ve spent three months studying for, it’s God’s time to shine. “Let me pass, Lord, and I’ll let you know what I need next.” When we’re sick, we pray that He will heal us. When we’re depressed, when we’re trying to make ends meet financially, or when we’re afraid of the unknown, we tend to rely on God more than when everything is blissful in our lives. It’s go time for God.
Look at the way Jesus responded to the people in John 6. He said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry” (v. 35). You’ll see the word “bread” 15 times in this passage, and its double meaning explains the difference between how we as humans think and how our Heavenly Father thinks. The people were clamoring for their earthly bread while Jesus was insisting they stop focusing on their earthly hunger and instead rely on Him.
Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. . . . Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. (John 6:53, 56)
Jesus was telling his people to commit to Him in all that they do. He doesn’t want halfhearted lukewarm Christianity in which people rely on God only when they have a problem. Instead, He’s offering Himself to us, and He wants us to be satisfied in Him – all of the time. This is the beauty of salvation through grace. It can’t be earned. It can’t be bought. It’s a free gift God gives us.
I ask you, what is your earthly bread that keeps you from seeking Jesus with all your heart? Is it your own hobbies and selfish desires? Is it the desire to be liked by others? Is it your ambition to climb the corporate ladder? Is it an addiction you’ve secretly battled for ages?
Jesus wants you to replace this food by turning to Him to be satisfied. Acquiring your worldly treasure won’t satisfy you. It may give you temporary satisfaction, but until you turn to Jesus and make Him the focal point of your life, you will be empty on the inside. You’ll be hungry, just like the people in John 6.
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CODY SWARTZ is a member of Community Evangelical Free Church in Harrisburg, PA.
[Picture by Artur Rutkowski / Unsplash]