Last month I attended an accounting conference in Las Vegas. Hundreds of Accountants with their calculators gathered together at the Venetian hotel. All sarcasm aside, this trip made me think a lot about why Vegas attracts so many people.
There is an aspect of Las Vegas that fascinates me. There is an appeal to our desires, drawing in people seeking different things. One might argue that the main draw of Vegas is gambling, and close behind that is entertainment. However, I think there is something more profound than a desire to become rich or be entertained. There is a way in which Vegas appeals to the different natural desires that we were created with, which so quickly become disoriented. God gave us desires, and there are many things in life to enjoy, yet we want the good things too much, sometimes we want wrong things, and we even at times do not want the right thing. I think there is one specific desire that Vegas has exploited for profit, leaving people pursuing that which can never satisfy the human heart.
I think most people go to Vegas to pursue the desire for satisfaction. We like when our wants, expectations, needs, or demands are satisfied. We feel good, happy, and content. Unfortunately, this sense of satisfaction is short-lived, and we pursue more. Vegas offers to satisfy multiple desires in one place at one time. Do you enjoy the pleasure of a good meal? Vegas offers all-you-can-eat buffets with food from all over the world (I admit, the food was great). Do you want sexual pleasure? Vegas is not shy about promoting this on the streets, billboards, and even with 800-numbers on trucks driving on the strip. Do you crave more money? Vegas offers you a chance to hit the jackpot. Do you need an escape from a hard life? Vegas offers plenty of different shows. The casino in Las Vegas becomes a worship center, a place to escape, enjoy, and seek satisfaction. The scene inside a casino is full of loud music, lights, the smell of food, cigarette smoke, the sounds of hitting the jackpot, and fun conversations around the card table, available anytime you desire. For a time, there has been some gratification but no true satisfaction.
One of the lessons I learned from Paul Tripp is that we often seek satisfaction in the creation instead of the creator. Anytime we do this, it leads to addiction (worship disorder) of some type. We were never meant to find true satisfaction in the created world. The dissatisfaction we experience reminds us that God created us for something more. Gratification without satisfaction should remind us of the temporary nature of this life and eternity with God. Is it wrong to pursue pleasure with food, sexual fulfillment, or attaining wealth? These are not wrong in themselves within the proper limits and context. Yet, there is difficult tension with our desires. God gave us the desire for satisfaction, but at the same time, we have to acknowledge that our hearts are weak and cannot be trusted.