We human beings have a lot of desires and urges. Our lungs crave oxygen, and thankfully we are surrounded by air. We get thirsty, and there is water. We get hungry, and there is food. We get tired, and when we lie down and close our eyes there is sleep. (Or in my case, put my head down on my keyboard at work right after lunch, and zonk out for a while.)
Either our environment was created just for us, or else we were created just for our environment.
Another powerful urge we have is the desire to exist. Human beings want to live, and not just live, but live forever. Now, of course, most people do not declare, “I want to be a billion years old!” with the last 99.999% of that time being a frail bag of bones in a nursing home. However, if we are honest, the idea that our individual personalities and memories will cease to exist at the moment we die strikes most folks as awful. We instinctively understand there is something mysterious at the core of our being, often called our soul or spirit. We also instinctively cringe at the idea that our souls are just temporary and fleeting. The soul is too unique and too wonderful merely to be here today and gone tomorrow.
So, if our experience is that there are solutions to our deepest longings — thirst/water, hunger/food, tiredness/sleep — then what are the odds that another deep longing, the desire always to exist, does NOT have a solution? What are the chances it’s a completely unrealistic, unfulfillable urge?
If it’s true that this natural world is all that exists, and the minute we die our minds and hearts and souls are gone forever, then why would our burning desire be the exact opposite? Why aren’t we “hardwired” to calmly accept annihilation? Why isn’t it built into our DNA to acknowledge that our individual personalities exist for a few brief decades and then disappear forever like a raindrop evaporating off a hot sidewalk?
Instead, our deepest longing is to exist, and to exist forever. And guess what? There is a solution to that deep and powerful human longing. That is exactly what the Christian Gospel is all about.
Oh, certainly there are other aspects to Christianity. For example, repentance and the forgiveness of sins; entering into loving relationships with the God who created us and with other people. But at its most basic level, the Gospel message is about eternal life. Our soul and spirit, our personality and memories, our wisdom and relationships continue on forever in the glorious kingdom of God, known as Heaven.
I know that a lot of people, especially nowadays, have rejected religious faith, including the hope for eternal life. They follow the secular worldview of our modern culture, which says that Christians embrace silly fairy tales. Well, to these folks, I’d like to quote John Lennon: “You may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us.”
(Hey, how do you like that? I used the Atheist’s Anthem, Lennon’s song “Imagine,” as an evangelization sales pitch.)
Sorry, Johnny, but imagining there’s no Heaven is not easy, even if I try. You see, longing to have eternal life is part of being human. That desire is not simply a weird glitch in the evolutionary process. It’s an urge that was planted in us by our Creator. He did it so we’d long to be with Him for all eternity.
All of our primary urges and desires have solutions. The longing to live forever is no different than our craving for air, water, food, or sleep. It just requires an open mind, and a little faith, hope, and love.