modified christianity | alternative views on a uniform system
by Calvin Edwards editor-in-chief
Should one wish to do so, one could make a case that discontentment was mankind’s first sin. God placed Adam in the garden and supplied him with a helper, Eve. Genesis tells us that Eve was tricked by the serpent into eating the fruit of the tree of good and evil, and Adam would later follow suit and eat of it as well.
“[The serpent] said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die.’ … So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.”
One could reason that Adam’s motivation for doing so was discontentment. Perhaps Adam, dissatisfied with everything with which God had supplied him, simply desired more. Perhaps he failed to find satisfaction in God’s providence and so took of the fruit, determined to satisfy himself when God would not, to fill a hole that God surely missed. Adam then learned that his choice would have dire consequences, effectively resulting in the death of all mankind. Should the Christian find traces of discontentment in Adam’s actions he will then attempt to follow the example of the Ecclesiastical Preacher and preach a gospel of contentment, encouraging us to find joy and pleasure in all that we do.
The Preacher, however, does not encourage us to find joy in all that we do, and neither should we encourage fellow Christians to find joy in all that we do. Christians have taken the message of contentment and viciously distorted it. The Preacher tells us to eat, drink, and be merry, and instead we find merriment in gluttony and drunkenness. We have given up contentment for heinous complacency, cheating the word of God.
Surely, we Christians should be content with what we have. To be content is to be joyful or satisfied. When Christians speak on contentment we tend to include a disregard of one’s situation in that definition. One ought to be content whether her life has been fortunate or miserable. One ought to be content with all that God has blessed one with. Contentment, then, carries with it a similar connotation to that of joy. Joy is often distinguished from happiness as it is felt regardless of one’s scenario: I can be joyful without being happy.
While similar, contentment is not the same as joy. Contentment carries with it the idea of satisfaction and gratitude. Even so, I can and should be content with little. One ought to be content with all that God has blessed one with, and to continuously thank God for His great providence. Christians seem to have no problem with this contentment and gratitude. We even raise our children to count their blessings that they might more fully appreciate all they have.
We have, however, grown overly satisfied. Christians have reached a point where we not only thank God for His gifts but we thank Him for everything. We are content in unfortunate situations, but we are equally content to wallow in our sin. We are content with our crimes and satisfied with our transgressions. Our push for contentment in all things seems to have led us to a new sin, to complacency. We thank God for financial security and then seek to acquire excessive wealth. We count our lovers amongst our blessings, though they may have led us down paths of sexual impurity. We praise God for so graciously sending His Son that we might reject and crucify Him continually in all we do.
Contentment is a necessity in the Christian life, but complacency has largely replaced this virtue as we continue to misunderstand what it means to be content. Contentment is satisfaction in whatever God has blessed us with regardless of how much or little it is. Complacency, on the other hand, abuses these blessings and misuses them. We must thank God for all that He has blessed us with, not for the way in which our sin has corrupted it.
Such distortion of God’s gifts is perhaps even more offensive than outright denial of them. It would be equivalent to Adam staring God in the face with his mouth full and thanking Him for blessing him with such delicious fruit.
Instead of this complacency, God demands repentance. He demands that we feel the juice dripping down our chins and recognize that we have done wrong in the eyes of the Lord. Rather than being satisfied in our failures, as Christians we can find satisfaction in our freedom to leave our failures behind. Jesus Christ has reconciled us to Himself, and we are free to leave the shackles of sin in our pasts. We are free to leave complacency behind us.