Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Serving Discontent

We all do it.  We serve our discontent.  To some degree, it is what drives us to get an education, a job, start a family, move to the burbs, encourage our kids into sports or band or dance or student council.  It is what prompts us to go to church, save for vacation, and to upgrade our cars, our houses, and our facial features through discrete procedures. 

Discontent is not the only motive for these things.  For some, it may not even be primary.  But it's always there.  It's always a part of what we pursue.  That's because God has wired it into us.  We are supposed to feel discontent when things are not as they should be.  That is our God-given sense of right and wrong or justice rising to the surface.

The problem for most of us, even those of us who follow Jesus, is the outlet we seek for this discontent.  This God-breathed sense of justice that resides in us and is always rising to the surface should lead us to serve the poor and oppressed and under-resourced.  It should lead us to learn how to share our faith with your friends who are far from God, and then share it.  It should move us to invest our time, money and energy on the stuff that carries eternal value.  

But we retreat to the burbs, isolate ourselves, and invest our time and resources on a world and way of life that allows us to pretend the promised kingdom has already come.  We feed ourselves on spiritual fast food.  It's cheap and easy and does not feed our souls with what they need to thrive.  When are we going to become discontent with that? 

Well, no time for that, right?  Our calendars are kind of booked up with, and our resources already committed to...oh, say....almost anything else.  We say we know better.  But we don't do better.  So do we really know better?  Can you really know what you have never experienced? 

Okay, feeling guilty enough?  Guilt is not my intent, by the way.  I have a friend, and we both know how guilt has been abused by the church to get people to do stuff that serves the church or church leadership, especially financially.  We joke that every time our backs hurt, or our cars break down, or we are mentally tired, or we catch a cold, the cause must be guilt.
"Man, I've been sneezing all day and nothing I take makes it stop.  Must be guilt!"

So I am not posting this to raise anyone's sense of guilt.  That is totally useless.  I am, however, trying to tap into that natural sense of discontent that we all have that grips us with the reality that this world is not as it should be, and then suggest that feeding that discontent by giving ourselves to the messy work of the Kingdom is the way of Jesus, and that retreat and isolation into a world where we can pretend it's not our responsibility is not the way of Jesus. Guilt, no!  Discontent, yes!

May we continue to be aware of our own sense of discontent.  May we begin to satisfy the hunger it creates with the investment of time, energy and resources into what build the Kingdom of God.  May we not be overwhelmed by the task and retreat, but may we find ways to retask, reboot, reprioritize, and recommit ourselves to the ongoing work of Christ who rested, but never retreated from the work of bringing life into the lives of those who were otherwise without hope.  And may the feeding of your discontent bring you a kind of joy you never knew was possible, and fill you with a hope that only those who join you will ever know.

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