What does it mean to be ‘satisfied’ in Christ?

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” ~ John 4:13-14

What desires are you looking to fulfill in life?

  • Are you longing for friendship?
  • Are you seeking for a meaningful purpose?
  • Are you trying to gain the approval of others?
  • Are you just trying to show yourself that you can finish what you start?
  • Are you aiming for a successful career (or semester)?
  • Are you yearning for a romantic partner?
  • Are you craving greater entertainment and amusement?
  • Are you desperate to feel like you can respect yourself for the work that you’re doing?
  • Are you thirsty for a sense of security in all your responsibilities?
  • Are you anxious that you’ll lose your health, or the health of a loved one?
  • Are you hoping that you can just get through another day?
  • Are you wondering if you’re going to find acceptance despite what you think about yourself?

All of us have a reason for getting up in the morning (even if it’s the fear of being late for something). All of us have desires and motivations for what we want to achieve. Some of those desires are bigger than others, and many of us can feel beaten down and discouraged from ever being able to reach them. So at times we can question whether these desires are worth pursuing. For those of us who struggle daily with depression, even the desire to survive and get through each day can be questioned.

Many of us can find temporary relief for our desires. We may have a cohort of friends who we come to trust, but inevitably there will be times when they disappoint us. We may attain a prominent position in our jobs, but just one health checkup can change the course of our life forever. We may desire the respect and approval of our families, but no one can meet all their expectations all the time. So what do we do with our desires?

In the Christian Bible, the one, true, living God charges His people in Israel with forsaking Him and going after other ‘gods’. He summarises their error in this way:

13 “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. ~ Jeremiah 2:13

Not only do His people run away from God, the source of life and satisfaction, but they run towards lesser sources of life and satisfaction that cannot sustain the weight of the requirements we may have for them. Satisfaction of our desires is not meant to be found in the creation separated from the Creator. Instead, our satisfaction is to be found in Jesus Christ. We are to come to Jesus to satisfy our desires. Not only that, but we are to come to Jesus in order to correct our desires (as we see in passages like Romans 12:2, we are to renew our minds with God’s word to discern what is good).

But what does that mean? What does it mean to be ‘satisfied’ in Christ? It can be such a nebulous, confusing phrase. Quite simply, I believe it means this:

We are to seek the satisfaction, and true source, of our desires in the person and achievement of Jesus Christ.

Let’s look at the first part: satisfaction of our desires in the person and achievement of Jesus Christ. Who Jesus is and what He has achieved for us through His work is the fountain from which all true satisfaction is found. When we come to Him with our desires and delight in His sweetness and majesty we glory in Him and show others that He is our supreme treasure.

  • In Jesus, we have a friend who is absolutely committed to us and who calls us to be lovingly committed to each other as well (John 15:11-15). A Christian should never feel lonely or isolated.
  • In Jesus, we have complete security in knowing that nothing can separate us from the love of God and His delight in us (Romans 5:6-11). We may be rejected or shunned by others, but God will never abandon us. A Christian never needs to worry about disappointing the one whose approval is of utmost importance, and this acceptance before God flows out into acceptance of each other, despite our differences. Even if we wrong others, or are wronged by others, we have an example and basis of forgiveness so that we can remain in a constant state of drawing near to others (Ephesians 4:31-32).
  • In Jesus, we have an identity and purpose in life that transcends beyond our ability to see or comprehend the eternal significance of what we do (Philippians 3:3). This identity and purpose shows others how Jesus is supremely satisfying and also draws our attention away from ourselves and towards Him.
  • In Jesus, we know that death, disease, and sickness will have no ultimate claim over us – they have been defeated and await their final sentencing when they will be vanquished and removed from our presence forever (1 Corinthians 15:51-55). Though we may become injured or sick in this life, we know that this is but a temporary suffering that cannot compare with the joy and glory that awaits us in the future (Romans 8:18). This doesn’t mean that suffering and sickness don’t matter – rather, it gives us assurance that they will not ultimately claim us and swallow up our existence.

There are so many other things that could be said about satisfaction in Jesus Christ. But these are several examples. However, Jesus not only is the source of satisfaction for our desires but in Him we see the ultimate source of our desires themselves. In doing so, we can correct and reorient them. This is important to realise because not every desire that we have may be a righteous one. For instance, a desire for a boat is not something that Jesus promises to satisfy, and the desire itself could be an expression of materialistic greed rather than a righteous desire before God. In Christ, we can see this from 1 Timothy 6:17-19:

17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

The ultimate source of a desire for a boat could be a desire to have enjoyment in riches. But what we treasure should be corrected from outward displays of wealth and riches and reoriented towards the treasures of godliness (which God empowers us to grow in) and eternal life (which God gives to us by His grace). One might say “I don’t need a boat to be satisfied in a treasure – I have the greatest treasure of godliness and a sure hope of eternal life that can never degrade or be destroyed in a storm”. And we can find enjoyment in these riches that will never spoil, never waste away, and never be lost.

A more comprehensive look at how our desires can be corrected and reoriented is beyond the scope of this post, but suffice it to say that all of us should ask ourselves the question: what am I doing with my desires? The Christian worldview, and the Christian Gospel, offers us the greatest satisfaction that will last, that will never disappoint, and that is good, true, and beautiful.

True satisfaction does come in Christ, and that satisfaction is the fulfillment and the revelation of the true source of all our desires. To go anywhere else is ludicrous.

James Chen

James is a Philosophy graduate from the University of Sydney and is currently a teaching and learning manager of a senior high school tutoring centre. James is a member of St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Carlingford and loves reading and teaching the Bible.