Community and the Longing Soul

EPSA member, Pastor Benjamin Miller at Franklin Square Orthodox Presbyterian Church on Long Island, New York, said one Sunday,

We long for a bond of human community that nothing can break (no one moves away, grows cold toward us, dies), in which each is eagerly pursuing the good of everyone with an infinite and gracious love. But that is found only in God the Father through Jesus Christ.

This brings to mind Augustine’s prayer from the Confessions, “Father, you made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Aristotle’s observation is true: we are “political animals.” We were made for community. “No man is an island, sufficient unto himself,” said Donne. But though made for community, we were not made for this world. What we long for in relationships, we cannot find in earthly, natural relationships.

The human bonds that sweeten our lives are blessings from God, but like all of his blessings they point beyond themselves to the One who alone truly satisfies. It is the failure to see this that in the modern world has led to utopian ideology and thence to monstrous tyranny. Mistaking the sign for the signified, seeking in this world what can be found fully only in the next, or in what transcends this world, is idolatry and leads necessarily to disappointment, misery and destruction.

With that in mind, the wisdom of the American system of government can be seen in its moderation. It secures for each citizen the freedom to pursue happiness, but does not guarantee that happiness. That is only God’s to give.

Indeed, God has promised us that happiness. He has promised you that happiness. He gives you himself, and does so only in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of sinners and the Mediator of the New Covenant.

To Israel he said, “I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish” (Jeremiah 31:25 ESV).

He fulfilled this promise in Jesus the Messiah, the hope of all nations: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).

— D.C. Innes, Assoc. Professor of Politics, The King’s College in New York City. This post appeared previously on the author’s blog, Principalities and Powers, August 12, 2007.

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