As a father of two (5 & almost 3), I find myself regularly reminding my children that they should be thankful for and content with what they have, not always looking for the ‘next thing’. In my daughter’s case, this particularly means not looking toward the next sugar fix, when she is already actively eating a piece of candy. Happiness, after all, is not to be found in things or activities, but in God himself, right?
If we are to be good Christians, we should just be content. Isn’t that what we are often told in church?
Yet, while the source of all our hope and joy and love and fulfillment should be God as he has been revealed in Jesus and witnessed to by the Holy Spirit, is recognition of God as the ‘source’ off goodness and happiness all that we as Christians should desire? Is it wrong to seek for more than contentedness in our knowledge of God, even our experiences of Him?
Or are we in danger of becoming too content?
Let me explain by way of an illustration from the Hopper Household last night. Our son will turn 3 in just a few days, and for pretty much the whole of this last year he has refused to eat any food that is a) not chicken nuggets, b) not crackers or c) not sugar. After thinking about this for quite some time, I made the executive decision last night that it is time for him to try something new. I took my stand with one of Sarah’s favorite dishes – chicken and dumplings.
Now, this particular dish is not very nutritious. I wold much rather have him eat a green bean or some broccoli, but I’m picking my battles carefully, and I thought 1) it isn’t a weird color, 2) it isn’t a vegetable, 3) Sarah likes it so it must not be too spicy, and 4) Its what I made, and I am tired of making multiple meals each night for dinner.
While all of these reasons made the choice rational in my mind, none of them accounted for the fact that my son would take one look at it and immediately throw a fit. Nonetheless, I was resolved, so Sarah and I calmed him down then offered him a compromise, since this was a foray into new and scary things for him. The compromise was simple, and completely loaded in his favor:
“Take one tiny bite of a dumpling, and if you don’t like it I will make you something else that you want.”
Simple, right? I mean, I could eat pretty much anything if I knew I only had to take one tiny nibble. Especially if it means getting anything I want to ea afterward. To the mind of a nearly-three-year-old, however, I might as well have declared war. I had declared my intentions, and he was going to stand and fight to the death.
After a 45 minute battle with increasing threats by me about what would happen to him if he didn’t take a bite (no other food, no desert, no movie before bed, early bedtime) he still refused to take a bite of dumpling, so there was only one thing left to do. Give in. PSYCHE! We followed through. We gave him a bath and put him straight to bed, all the while letting him know that he could change the course of his near future by simply taking a bite of dumpling. He never gave in. He chose to go straight to bed with no dinner than take a bite of something new.
Fast forward to this morning. When I got out of bed, he wasn’t feeling good. In fact, he was sick to his stomach. Since he hadn’t eaten dinner the night before, and probably didn’t eat lunch at school (he is finicky there too), I said to Sarah that he was probably just really hungry.
When I said this, he turned to look at me, folded his little arms over his chest in a defiant manner, smiled broadly, and said, “I still didn’t eat a dumpling.”
Having lost his chicken nuggets, his desert, his play time, his before-bed cartoon, and gaining a sick tummy, he believed he was still victorious. He was content. He was so satisfied with his position that he couldn’t conceive of the good things I had prepared for him.
Isn’t this how we sometimes react to God when he offers us something more? Now, when I say “more” I’m not talking about more things, or more money, or more time. I am talking quality, not quantity. How often have you or I rejected the notion that we can be better than what we are now, emphasizing that simply knowing Jesus is enough? How often have you or I stayed home and watched TV instead of getting involved in mission or service or WORSHIP, all the while making a mental note that it doesn’t matter anyway, because we ‘made a decision’ to follow Jesus?
Are you and I content with the bare minimum of calling Jesus Lord and asking him to save us?
In the person of Jesus Christ, all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, in order to reconcile all things to himself (Col 1:19-20). God was not content to leave things as they were. Why are we so anxious to do so, when God has promised us so much more?
Christians are called by God to be a holy people. We are called to live lives that reflect the love of God shed abroad in our hearts. We are promised that when we turn over all that we have to God’s authority, he will make us new creatures, capable of such love and holiness. Only when we allow God to work in us to create new life can we truly love others as he intends.
Do you want to truly live, experiencing genuine hope and freedom from sin? Seek Jesus!
Do you want to have an impact on the world? Surrender your will to Him!
Do you want to see lives transformed by God’s love shed abroad in you? Seek your own transformation!
Do you want to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”? Seek holiness!
Are you content with calling Jesus Lord, or are you ready to bend the knee to his authority? Are you content with the idea that you are safe from hell, or do you desire to see the whole world saved? Are you content with living as a saved sinner, or are you ready to become a loving, obedient child of the Living God?
Are you ready to experience the fullness of a life lived in Christ?
Or are you, even now, folding your arms across your chest, smiling broadly, and saying, “I still won’t eat the dumpling”?