The Terrible Search

BY PAUL DUNK

Recently at the Golden Globes, Jim Carrey took to the stage to present the award for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy. Though his short, humorous speech got a lot of people laughing, I don't doubt that the poignancy of his words also got a lot of people thinking... I can identify with his words because I still struggle with my own "terrible search".

"I'm two time Golden Globe winner Jim Carrey ...and when I dream, I don't just dream any old dream. No sir. I dream about being three time Golden Globe winner, Jim Carrey ... because then I would be enough. It would finally be true ... and I could stop this terrible search."

The way he introduced himself was funny - but it was strangely self aware. It was like he verbalized how I think about myself when my fragile ego needs boosting.

"Hi, I'm the founding pastor of KW Redeemer, Paul Dunk. Oh and by the way, I'm a 4th year MABTS student studying Greek. Oh, wait, you probably already knew that already because I posted it last week."

Busted. I want a 3rd Golden Globe too, Jim.

Yes, of course he was joking. However, he's an intelligent and insightful man who was also saying something with intention. Jim Carrey was raised a Roman Catholic, dabbled in Presbyterianism, and most recently, has subscribed to the New Age spiritualism  - according to the internets.

He's a man on a spiritual journey, seemingly propelled by his observations about the smallness of what it means to be human, the unending quest to matter, and what living our lives in the "terrible search" for ultimate fulfillment produces.

I don't know that for sure - obviously as I've never met him. I'm making assessments based on various interesting things I've heard him say about life and human nature. Maybe as a fellow Canadian, we'll sit down someday for a drink and discuss all this. After all, there's only a few of us up here. He probably knows my friend Jason out in BC.

Our terrible search ...

The search for the Golden Globe isn't limited to those in that room. We're all chasing our own Golden Globes: that thing, that if obtained, would truly fulfill us.

Baptizing the search ...

One of the premises of New Age spiritualism is that you are a co-creator of future hope and peace by gaining control of your thought life so you can be released from fear. [1] Liberal Christian teachers who are enslaved in their own terrible search have incorporated this teaching and amassed massive religious empires. They have figured out that if there's one thing us North Americans love - it's more. These religious entrepreneurs under the guise of the pastoral office simply baptize the American dream in a few select scriptures, and we line up to to the trough to feed on their musings because our own terrible search drives us to worship at the altar of success.

Where Christian doctrine gets in bed with the principles of New Age spiritualism, it has a very ugly baby. They give birth to preaching that does not centre the church on Christ's work, because it is primarily concerned with their work. The centre of the sermon cannot rest on Christ and Him crucified because it's primarily catering to your Christian life improved. As a result, Christ is not presented as the One who frees us from our terrible search because the teaching is baptizing the search: get a Golden Globe in business, family, marriage and relationships - for God's glory of course - and here's how.

I am guilty of the very thing I am criticizing. I've baptized the terrible search and taught the scriptures in a way that turns the church inward and not upward.

The Gospel liberates us from the search ...

I'd love to say that when I go to bed I'm "Paul", but I still struggle with going to bed as, "Paul Dunk, preacher, church planter, aspiring to be a big deal - for God of course.".

I confess, I struggle with my own terrible search.

I've said before to folks at Redeemer that Sunday afternoons can be the hardest time in my week. No matter how hard I study or prepare, I know my sermons are always lacking. Something could have been communicated better, clearer, more relatable, more accurately or more concisely. Now, I could baptize all of that and say I'm just being a loving pastor who wants to develop his gift so he can serve people better - and that's partly true. I need God to deliver me from the other part: the part that's ugly.

My Golden Globe.

My terrible search to find my identity, meaning and validation through my performance instead of finding soul rest in the utter simplicity of being loved as God's child. I'm still being delivered from my terrible search.

Thankful for grace. Grace that stretches further than my sin. Grace that over time is replacing the love in my heart for my Golden Globe with a love for my God.

Many times God ministers His grace through my wife Susan, who knows me better than anyone and can identify when I'm clamoring for my Golden Globe. She wisely refuses to pat me on the head in those idolatrous moments to affirm my preaching, knowing that it would only drive me deeper into my terrible search. Instead, she lovingly points me to the rest that's available in the very gospel that I preach.

Though I can be like a dog, returning to his vomit by entering back into the idolatry of my performancism and chase my Golden Globe, God is faithful. He forgives me, cleanses me and minister His peace to my soul. Every. Single. Time.

Good news, friend ...

Each time we rest in the "it-is-finishedness" of God's love and acceptance by grace in Christ, we find reprieve from our terrible search. Your search is different than mine, but you have your own struggle, chasing down your own Golden Globe. This gospel freedom propels us to use our gifts to love our neighbor and do good works without our love and work needing to earn us a Golden Globe of validation, importance or acceptance because our hearts are already full. Our soul has finally found it's rest in God by grace through faith in Christ alone.

There is true soul rest for you, friend. A beautiful place of grace in Christ where you find peace and hope that transcends the pain, sorrow, frustrations and trials of your life.

The Father planned to rescue you from the emptiness and death found at the end your terrible search. The Son accomplished your rescue by grace alone. The Spirit is right now renewing your heart - increasingly replacing the chronic need for your next Golden Globe with a love for the One who rescued you and gives rest for your soul.

Paul is a graduate of Knox Theological Seminary and the founding pastor of KW Redeemer in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario.  He is an MCO race school graduate, but presently his main hobby is drinking espresso because it's cheaper than fixing cars. Paul and Susan live in Waterloo with their three children.
Twitter @PaulDunk