Living for Something Bigger Than Yourself
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CBN.com Have you ever wished to be a part of something far bigger than your own small existence? Have you wanted to invest yourself in something truly worthwhile? In his new book, A Quest for More, Paul David Tripp tells us that deep down we all long to touch the glory of God’s kingdom. And our great gift from God is that he has “hardwired” us for glory.
Tripp’s new release challenges the reader to leave behind the “kingdom of self” and the world of “I, Me, Mine” to reach toward the kingdom of God. He asks us to reconsider one of the central lessons of the New Testament—what did Jesus mean when he called us to “seek first his kingdom”?
A Quest for More brings the concept of transcendence to where “the rubber meets the road of daily life.” And though our journey to God’s kingdom begins by determining a purpose for our lives, reaching our destination demands so much more.
“It is a good thing to have purpose,” Tripp tells us, “but if your purpose isn’t tied to Glory, you have still denied your humanity.”
A Quest for More shows us what transcendence looks like at “street-level” and teaches us how we can live within God’s kingdom each and every day.
Using the sound logic and compelling illustrations which we have come to appreciate in his earlier works (Age of Opportunity, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, How People Change and Relationships: A Mess Worth Making), Tripp maps for us a path toward transcendence into the glory of God.
Tripp’s upbringing in a strong Christian family in America’s heartland taught him that practical approaches can help us come to grips with even the most mysterious aspects of our faith. And in this manner he outlines the method by which we can live not only a purposeful life, but also a life which is bound for glory. By overcoming the lure of the “kingdom of self,” we can connect all that is fully human in our lives with the holy, infinite and eternal “kingdom of God.”
A Quest for More affirms that God has chosen us for glory. Our task is to accept his great gift.
Recently Tripp discussed the book.
When did you decide to write A Quest for More? What prompted you to begin work on this subject?
Quest was stimulated by two things. The first and most important was my own need. I am very aware that I, like everyone else, tend to shrink my life down to the size of my own wants, needs, and feelings. I needed a fresh vision of the big sky country of the Kingdom of God. But I also wrote Quest out of the concern that there are biblical terms that we throw around in the Christian conversation that remain muddy and ill-defined. I think the “Kingdom of God” is one of those terms.
You begin A Quest for More by asking the question, “Have you ever wanted to invest yourself in something worthwhile? Something truly great?” What are the large, meaningful issues in which you have invested and how does A Quest for More fit into that work?
Quest does not lay out a plan for doing a list of better, more important things. Rather, what living for God’s kingdom is really about is doing the things I do every day with a bigger, better purpose in view and, because of that, doing these things in a very different way. When you do this, the mundane moments of your life get connected to and become part of the transcendent purposes of God.
In a recent interview you said that the process of writing “is a tool for advancing God’s conversation with man.” What, then, is God saying to us through A Quest for More? What is its chief message?
The core message of Quest is really very simple. Human beings were created to be part of something bigger than their own lives. Sin causes us to shrink our lives down to the size of our lives. The grace of Christ is given to rescue us from the claustrophobic confines of our own little self-focused kingdom and frees us to live for the eternal purposes and satisfying delights of the Kingdom of God.
Why do you think this message is especially important today?
We live in a culture that has institutionalized self-focus and personal entitlement. If you look around, it is very clear that we need to be rescued from ourselves. Things like debt, addiction, obesity, divorce, etc. are the fruits of a culture of self-focus, where we look for meaning where meaning cannot be found. There is freedom to be found in living for something bigger than yourself.
A Quest for More asserts that deep down we all desire transcendence and, more importantly, transcendence is what God wants for us. Could you explain the word transcendence to us?
To live for transcendence means that what you think, desire, say, and do is driven by something bigger than personal wants, needs, and feelings. Ultimately, it means living for the glory of God and the success of his agenda for the world he made.
Why did God “hardwire” us for glory?
God hardwired us for glory because our innate attraction to “glory” is meant to connect us to the one glory that is truly glorious, the glory of God.
You explain in your work that our quest for transcendence has been with us from the beginning—since God’s creation of Adam and Eve—and that the Genesis story points to four transcendent glories that were created to be the “life-shaping focus of every human being.” Can you comment on those four glories and explain how we are still driven by these four paths to transcendence?
The Four Transcendent Glories of Genesis 1 are:
- God glory: This is the ultimate glory that is to give shape and direction to my life. I was made for God.
- Truth glory: We were never made to figure life out on our known. What needs to be known will never be discovered by experience or research. We need truth from outside of ourselves in order to make sense out of our lives.
- Community glory: We were never designed to live isolated, individualistic, self-absorbed lives. We will only be what we are supposed to be and do what we are supposed to do when we are living in self-sacrificing, God-honoring love for others.
- Stewardship glory: God has called us to a moral responsibility to be good stewards (managers) of the world he created.
In your work as a counselor, you must have met many people who have chosen the “kingdom of self” over the “kingdom of God.” What are some of the traps which have obstructed their paths to transcendence?
Our path is always obstructed by the little kingdom agenda of personal comfort, position, power, acceptance, pleasure, possessions, etc. When my heart is ruled by these things, I do not end up with much more; I am left with much less.
How does “fear” factor into our failings and defeats?
The kingdom of self is driven and shaped by all kinds of fears: fear of man, fear of discomfort, fear of difficulty, fear of failure, fear of not getting my own way, etc. The principle is this: if God doesn’t own the fear of our hearts, he will not own the practical direction of our lives.
One of your chapters deals with masks—the disguises we employ to masquerade our self-made kingdoms as the kingdom of God. What are some of the more tragic examples of masquerading that you’ve encountered?
A person will be power hungry, but will tell himself that he is simply exercising God-given leadership gifts. A man will lust after a woman, but will tell himself it is not lust—he’s just a man who enjoys beauty. A parent will yell at her kids, but will tell herself that she was speaking as one of God’s prophets. A person will gossip, but will do it in the guise of a prayer request. The list is literally endless.
Your introduction to A Quest for More tells us that this book is intended to bring the fairly lofty concept of transcendence out of the halls of academia and into the street where “the rubber meets the road of daily life.” What does transcendence look like at “street-level”? How is it achieved in our day-to-day lives?
At the street level transcendence means I am choosing what I’m choosing, doing what I’m doing, and saying what I am saying, not for the purposes of personal, temporal happiness, but for the sake of God’s eternal agenda for the world that he created.
You conclude A Quest for More with a most interesting metaphor. You tell us that God calls us to live “in moment-by-moment harmony with him.” Using the terms of music as you did in the final chapters of your work, please explain to us how structure and form can lead to transcendence and freedom.
It is very clear that, in his Word, God has not given us a script for every moment of our existence. I do not have a script for that difficult conversation I am going to have tonight at 7:30. To use musical terms, what God has given me in His Word is a key signature and a time signature and he invites me to worshipful improvisation. As long as I stay within his key signature and time signature (the commands, principles, and callings of Scripture), I will make harmonious music with him as I improvise my way through my daily life.
Want to know more? Check out A Quest for More: Living for Something Bigger Than You.
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