Desire gets a bad break in Christian doctrine.
Augustine struggled with his desires. He did become a saint, but he ended up rejecting much of desire as evil and debasing. To be honest, that only means that desires were a problem for Augustine.
Paul talks about "evil desires" (Colossians 3:5-6) and how they get kicked into the garage sale pile once we are in Christ.
Much of Christian theology has put desire on it's most wanted list, the watch list for criminal activity, the theological equivalent of the naughty list.
I'm fine with being careful, yes, but are we too careful?
There are desires within us that are good.
The desire to love my daughter well. The desire to be a good husband. The desire to live in a significant, purposeful, and deep way. The desire to be a neighbor that people would want to live near.
Each of these desires can exist in me without any affiliation with Jesus and the Kingdom of God. I understand that. Yet they are good desires, right?
Can they be taken to bad extremes? Sure. Can they become self-seeking ways of promoting my own awesomeness? True and they have become that for me in the past. Can they lead to more sin on the part of others - more "living distant from life with God" - while insulating and making my life comfortable? Indeed.
None of those realities make desire in and of itself a bad thing.
In fact, Jesus was a man of desire. A man of seeking:
He desired to be with the poor, broken, and marginalized. He desired to see His disciples' faith increase. He desired rest, food, play, the presence of children and the dialogue about Torah.
He then asked us to seek, to desire - to desire His Kingdom, good gifts, righteousness beyond regulations, yes! He plunged a spear into the depths of creation and a great clear spring - living water - erupted and that message to an arid desert culture welcomed visions of an oasis that could never be drained.
Today, we have to entertain the fact that quest to understand God should not overtake our desire for God and the good of His creation.
So much is at stake in our desires - the fascinating quality of our life as disciples, our ability to sit in tension with issues that don't require propositions but presence, and our overall place in saying that if God is our King then desire can be part of the Kingdom.
How do you think of your desires today? Which ones are misplaced - out of line with our nature as created images of God fastened into gritty flesh - and which ones have been unfairly lumped in with the deadly desires?
Which desire has God brought marching to the forefront of your thoughts, but you've ignored it due to the way you see desires in general?
My challenge for you today is to open a document or get a piece of paper (I know, old school) and write down a list of your desires. What are the things you long for more than anything else today? Make that a prayer list and see what God has to say on each desire.