One of the key concepts in the Buddhist religion is the idea that "restlessness" is the main problem with mankind. There is a lot of truth to this as we watch western society frantically search for the good life - or what we've been told the good life ought to be.
Buddhism offers the restless soul a religion where the antidote to the stresses and constant yearnings of life are replaced with the "nothingness" of Buddhist contemplation and self-denial: In other words, the Buddhist monk empties his soul of every desire, every connection to this world in an effort to feel nothing and want nothing until he is completely absorbed into a greater consciousness.
Sometimes they compare the experience of the Buddhist life to a single drop of water being emptied into the ocean. For a nation that suffers poverty and oppression this religion has a certain appeal.
This has been true of countries like China, Vietnam, Indonesia and other eastern peoples who have experienced unfulfilled desires for peace, freedom and wealth for a long time. A religion that promises "release" from wanting something you can't have - by rejecting a cruel and hard world might be very appealing (If you're suffering, a religion that offers to disconnect you from the world is a good idea).
There are Buddhists in the United States, but not many of them because here, the America dream is possible and many of your desires can actually be fulfilled. Our problem is not "wanting to disconnect from this world". No, our desire rarely follows the Buddhist ideology of wanting nothing.
On the contrary, our main desire is to have it all.
Just as the Buddhist believes that the true goal of life is achieved when they truly have nothing' and are possessed by nothing we here in Canada believe that we have achieved our true goal in life when we have everything.
Now, by "having it all" I mean that there is a certain list of possessions we feel we need to have to believe we have reached true success and happiness in life. Here's the basic list:
- A vehicle(s) we are proud of.
- Our own house.
- Education for our children.
- Financial independence at retirement.
- Good looks and a healthy body.
If we've got these 5 things we've got the American dream, we've got it all. Much of our "restlessness" and planning; a great portion of our physical and emotional energy go into acquiring and maintaining these things.
Now there's a strange thing that happens when we finally have it all - do you know what that is? Once we have the health, the vehicle, the house, the money for kids' education and our retirement - we realize that the old "restlessness" hasn't gone away now that we do have it all. So we create a new list of things we require to really have it all.
- More vehicles (boat maybe).
- Bigger house (or country house).
- Not just education but advantages for the kids.
- Not just retirement income but wealth building income (We want a legacy).
- Not just healthy but younger!
Are you noticing that there's a pattern evolving here? Once you have it all, you realize that there's always a little more you might need to really have it all.
Like the ranchers in Oklahoma used to say, "I don't need a lot of land, just the acreage next to mine."
Some people stay in this rat race until they die. They accumulate a lot of stuff but never really have it all. Some people become Buddhists thinking that chasing nothingness instead of everythingness will calm their restless hearts.
And some discover that it is possible to have it all, if they search for those things that are truly available and satisfying when obtained.
I. Having The Right "All "
You see, God offers to His children a series of blessings that are available and satisfying when obtained. The beautiful thing about this is that a person can have them all. In other words it is possible to say, "I have it all", and really have everything made available by God.
So the desire to "have it all" is not a bad thing, if what you desire are the things made available by God. Wanting it all is destructive when the "all" that we want is either:
- Sinful in nature
- Simply material in nature.
Chasing immoral pleasures or physical things cannot satisfy or bring peace or calm our desire and restlessness. But when we seek and find the things God has designed for our pleasure we experience the peace and joy that comes from truly having it all.
II. Having All The Best Things in Life.
Knowing and possessing the things God has made available for us is the key to happiness. The Bible describes 3 things that we need to seek after in order to be satisfied. Finding these three will mean we truly "have it all".
..So having it all means..
1. Finding Joy in Your Work.
12 I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one's lifetime;13 moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor—it is the gift of God.
- Ecclesiastes 3:12-13
Solomon says that the ability to be satisfied with your work; to enjoy what you do; the enjoyment you experience is a gift from God. So many people hate their work or only see their work as a means to an end:
IE. - Work to make money so I can buy the car, house etc.
These people are missing the point. The satisfaction is supposed to come from your work not from what your work pays for. The Bible says that this "work satisfaction" is one of the things worth striving for and when you've got that - "you have it all" as far as work is concerned. The gift is not how much your job pays or buys for you - it's how much satisfaction the work gives you - that's the gift.
..Having it all means..
2. Finding A Good Spouse.
Again Solomon says,
"He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains a favor from the Lord."
- Proverbs 18: 22
In those days only the men "took" wives and so it is written from a male and patriarchal society (A man finds a wife). But the reverse is equally true (a woman who finds a good husband is blessed as well). We often give more attention to buying a computer or a can or a piece of clothing than the spouse we choose.
And yet every aspect of our lives will be affected by the person we marry.
To find a partner that loves the Lord 1 st, that is heaven bound, that desires to love us above all others is a blessing indeed. The majority of people get married but see marriage as the vehicle that will get them the house, the car, the family etc.
They don't realize that if you don't have it all because you have this particular partner, then adding a car, dwelling even children will not create happiness or satisfaction within the marriage! The person who finds a spouse who sincerely loves the Lord, who is filled with the Spirit, and who is led by the word of God - this person is the one who has it all, no matter where he/she lives or what they drive.
3. Finding the Savior of Your Soul.
No matter what you have there is nothing you can exchange for your soul. You can't "talk" your way into heaven, you can't "work" your way into heaven. Regardless of what we have her on earth, before God we are nothing, we are helpless, we are covered with sin and guilt.
Isaiah says it this way:
"For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all of our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us whither like a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away"
- Isaiah 64:6
Each person needs a Savior whether they know it or not, because all have sinned and face the wrath of God. Paul expresses both their plight and anguish felt by one who recognizes this, as well as the joy one feels when he finds salvation.
"Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?"
- Romans 7:24
Here he reveals the fear and pain of one who is lost, and knows that his own sinfulness is the cause of this condition. In the next chapter (8:1) however he confesses his joy at finding his Saviour and the salvation He brings.
"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."
- Romans 8:1
Later on Paul explains that salvation by Christ brings the individual all the blessings made available by God.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ"
- Ephesians 1:3
Finding Jesus is finding the "Jackpot" or the "pearl" as the Bible says. When you find satisfaction in your work and a good spouse - you've got the best that the physical world has to offer; when you find Jesus you've found the key to heaven and all of its treasures. If you've found Jesus, you've truly got it all, and if you don't it doesn't matter what you have -- it will never be enough.
Sermons usually have a point or an objective. This one has three:
1. I want you to strive for the things that truly satisfy in this life.
- Joy from work.
- Joy in a loving marriage.
There are other things but these are the ones worth working on, sacrificing for, being careful with. I once saw the biography of Christina Onasis who inherited $1 Billion from her father Aristotle. She died at 38.
- Married four times.
- Addicted to alcohol and barbiturates.
- Terribly unhappy (by her own admission).
In watching her story it became evident that she never found the right man or the right cause - her money always got in the way. You can have it all in this life if you know what to look for.
2. I want you to truly have it all.
And that is not possible without the blessings of heaven provided only through Jesus Christ - the Savior. We can have it all in this world but only for a short time.
Jesus promises us all the blessings of heaven (power, purity, joy, peace, sonship, knowledge - to name a few) and He guarantees these things forever. I want you to strive for these things because in the world a good spouse or a joyful work is sometimes lost or interrupted -- but the blessings of heaven are of everyone and for always.
3. I want you to pursue your blessings in the right way.
You see you can have it all but there are some rules, the most important one is the following: You can't do what's wrong and expect to have a right outcome. Like computers; Junk in, Junk out. For example:
- Can't goof off, neglect training for something, and refuse to make an effort but end up with a totally satisfying work or vocation.
- Can't ignore your partner, cheat on them, treat them without respect and hope to be happy in marriage.
- Can't live without faith, refuse to obey Christ, act in a worldly and immoral way - and expect God to give you all the blessings of heaven.
In this sense, you can't have it all. But for those who search for the right things in the right way - God is gracious and kind and is eager to bless us with all the blessings of this life and the next.
If that's your case give thanks and praise God every day for your many blessings - this is the responsibility of those who have it all.
For those who may be missing out on these things, if you need prayer and help to strengthen you for your life here on earth, or if you would like to secure for yourself the blessings of heaven through faith in Jesus - You can take the first step by coming now for prayer or baptism, whichever you need.