Christianity is often presented as essentially the transfer of a body of knowledge. We learn about where the Philistines were from, and how much a drachma would be worth today, and all sorts of things about the original Greek. The information presented could not seem more irrelevant to our deepest desires.
Then there are the systems aimed at getting our behavior in line, one way or another. Regardless of where you go to church, there is nearly always an unspoken list of what you shouldn’t do (tailored to your denomination and culture, but typically rather long) and a list of what you may do (usually much shorter— mostly religious activity that seems totally unrelated to our deepest desires and leaves us only exhausted). And this, we are told, is the good news. Know the right thing; do the right thing. This is life? When it doesn’t strike us as something to get excited about, we feel we must not be spiritual enough. Perhaps once we have kept the list long enough, we will understand.
We don’t need more facts, and we certainly don’t need more things to do. We need Life, and we’ve been looking for it ever since we lost Paradise. Jesus appeals to our desire because he came to speak to it. When we abandon desire, we no longer hear or understand what he is saying. But we have returned to the message of the synagogue; we are preaching the law. And desire is the enemy. After all, desire is the single major hindrance to the goal—getting us in line. And so we are told to kill desire and call it sanctification. Or as Jesus put it to the Pharisees, “You load people down with rules and regulations, nearly breaking their backs, but never lift even a finger to help” (Luke 11:46 The Message).