Here’s another fun blog after my heavy Rapture theology piece. Another one of my all time favorite songs from one of my all time favorite bands, U2. I love to sing along with this song in the car everytime I hear it on radio or my cd or ipod. I even try to play along on my guitar with my average guitar skills! Even tears come to my eyes sometimes when I get to the song’s final stanza. This song seems to give voice to my deepest groans – I still haven’t found what I’m looking for – even though I’m not sure exactly what it is. Theologically, I have an educated guess.
St. Augustine once wrote that the human soul is restless until it finds its rest in God. There’s a God-shaped vacuum in our deepest beings that only God can fill. Until it is filled, we are forever restless and driven to seek to fill it, often by God-substitutes, e.g. fame, fortune, sex, love, good deeds, family, etc. This song, for me, always reminds me of my own restlessness.
What I love about this song is that it puts into eloquent words my “holy discontent” even as a Christian. Even though we are running the good race – “I’m still running” (song lyric) and keeping the good faith – “you know I believe it” (song lyric), if we are truly honest with our deepest selves, we know we still haven’t entirely found what we’re looking for. To me, this is the honest realization that the God-shaped vacuum will only be completely filled by God in the New Heaven and Earth, when God will dwell with us mortals, when the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven and God makes his home with us (Revelation 21).
Christians need to be honest about our dissatisfactions on this side of Christ’s return. I sometimes see Christians carry what seems to me a fake joy, an artificially contrived facade of picture perfect happiness as a sign of being a “true” Christian who is supposedly filled by the Spirit and thus, has no more worries about the cares and troubles of the world. They are apparently blissfully content – an inner state of nirvana, so to speak. These days, such Christians annoy me. I find them inauthentic and I suspect most people of other faiths/non-faith find them annoying and inauthentic as well.
I remember in my youth being asked – interrogated more like it – by an older Christian about how my inner state has changed for the better after I became a Christian. I clearly felt that the “correct” answer was NOT “I don’t think anything’s changed”! The older Christian was expecting some kind of drastic reversal story of how I was always down trodden and in despair and after committing my life to Jesus, I was almost miraculously changed into a joyous and happy saint, who can face all the troubles of my young life with confidence and faith in my Savior. Sure enough, that was precisely the storyline that she told me about her own testimony! This after I obviously fumbled with an unsatisfactory answer to her question. I remember feeling guilty after that. I felt guilty that I somehow did not feel more joy and/or peace now that I was a Christian and wondered what was wrong with me spiritually.
But over the years, I have come to realize that a genuine Spirit-filled Christian does not have to be content and joyful over everything and at all times in life. And I don’t think I need to hide my discontents from God. The Spirit who helps me pray through “wordless groans” (Romans 8:26) surely already knows my inner restlessness. I think the Spirit would grieve over the pains of the world. I think the Spirit will mourn over the cries and tears of mothers who lost their children in war, disease and poverty. I think the Spirit groans over the ravaging and eco-destruction of God’s beautiful earth. I think the Spirit foams with anger over the prejudice, the racism, sexism, able-ism, tribalism and classism that not only divide us but destroy us. I think the Spirit definitely cries over Christians who oppress others in the name of Jesus. These, along with many other things, makes me unhappy and dissatisfied. No, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for – a world where God’s love, grace and justice reigns in shalom. And no, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for – a world where God literally is at home with us, and with me.
Here’s the song’s final stanza that I sing as a bare-my-soul honest prayer to God:
I believe in Kingdom come, when all the colors will bleed into one, bleed into one. Yes, I’m still running. You broke the bonds and loosed the chains, carried the cross of my shame, of my shame. You know I believe it. But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.