Thursday, September 27, 2007

Glorious joy in discontentment

If there is one sin I am guilty of it is the sin of discontentment. I am rarely, if ever, satisfied with my life. This discontentment is really revealing because it only proves what the Bible teaches - I am not satisfied with God alone as my absolute treasure. Christ alone is not enough for me and it is a grievous sin. I seek contentment and joy in things outside of Christ, and diminish His worth in my heart in the process. Not to mention what this makes Jesus look like to those around me.

Someone came up to me last Sunday in church and mentioned to me: "Wow, you look like you are simply bubbling over with glorious joy!" It was a well-placed, somewhat sarcastic and now appreciated remark and I'll tell you why. I was about to go up on stage at my church and be installed as a deacon. I will be teaching a class called "Glorious Joy" and I will be overseeing the ministry at our particular campus of "Biblical Living/Teaching." There I was, about to embark on a ministry for others to fight for glorious joy and I looked like my cat had died, evidently. I appreciated the comment because it's true and I needed to hear it. My wife tells me all the time that I "look" scary - like I'm about to throw down or kill someone. I am well aware that my discontentment shows in my countenance and it makes Jesus look less than satisfying.

Now, why am I confessing this sin on this blog, you might ask? Well, what good is it to teach that Christ is our glorious joy and that cherishing other things above Him is the root of all sin - if that is not the reality I myself face everyday? What good is it to teach people that everyone else struggles to fight for joy in Christ if I am not honest enough to confess that I struggle in the same way? I would be a hypocrite to walk around with a smile on my face and "pretend" that I am content when I am not. Sin should be brought into the light by us living transparent lives and being sincere about our struggles. Even though there is no topic that I am more interested in; engaged in; consumed by; and driven by than joy in Christ and His glory. Even though Christ IS my absolute treasure and I delight in Him above all else - I must confess that the reason I am so consumed by Him and His glory and this topic of our joy in Him, is because that is where I struggle the most.

I love TV. I love relaxing evenings with a glass of wine. I love comfort. I love food. I love being right. I love being complimented. I love it when life is easy and I don't have to suffer or work hard. I love all of these things more than Jesus and I deserve eternal damnation because of it. I delight more in "Survivor man" and "Iron Chef America" than I do the living God and it is a sin deserving of all of the wrath He can pour out. I am a sinner and I reject the living God all the time. I reject the all-satisfying, all-sovereign, all-supreme King and Lord of the universe and I exchange being satisfied in His glory for a lie. I find my satisfaction in created things rather than His all-satisfying grandeur and glory.

If the Bible wasn't true. If the gospel wasn't a reality and Jesus didn't pay the penalty that my sin deserves...this would be a depressing post indeed. If there was no truth beyond what I just shared - that I am a hopeless sinner - then there would be no rest from my discontentment. But, praise be to God, there is hope. Praise be to God, there is more.

In Isaiah 64:4, God makes a stunning promise, a glorious promise about what awaits those of us who love Him.

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has in store for those who love Him."

What a promise! What a statement! God, my God promises that my eyes have never seen, my ears have never heard and my mind has never even conceived of what God has in store for me if I love Him. It is inconceivable that I could ever see, hear or imagine the pleasure and joy that God has in store for me if I love Him. There are not earthly pleasures that will satisfy me in the Kingdom of God. There are not earthly or worldly fantasies which will be fulfilled. No, the promise is that God Himself will be my all-satisfying gift and that the joy I experience in Him is beyond anything I can ever see, hear or imagine. This is what Paul refers to as the "hope of glory" in Colossians 1:27 and it is what David longs for in Psalm 27:

"One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple."

Praise be to God that it is His glory I can be satisfied in. Praise be to God that all I need do is abandon all of my empty and meaningless worldly pursuits and simply gaze upon His glory in the "face of Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6) Then, and only then, will I be content. TV doesn't bring true or lasting contentment. Compliments last only so long. Without work and without suffering I can never hope to see my true joy fulfilled. Jesus, for the joy set before Him, endured suffering and shame on the cross in order that I might be satisfied in His glory and His majesty.

Oh, God may you forgive me for belittling and mocking your glory. May you forgive me for my lack of reverence in my worldly pursuits and my attempts at finding contentment outside of you. Show me your glory Lord, that I may be full of an inexpressible joy filled with glory (1 Peter 1:8).

God is faithful to give us contentment when we are willing to turn from our fruitless pursuits and idolatrous ways. But don't find contentment in His gifts (salvation, justification, provision); find contentment in Him and in Him alone.

I have already decided to spend all of next week, Monday through Friday afternoon, in a fast. Me and my household will fast from TV, from comfort, from noise, from just about everything that gets in the way of seeing God's glory in it's fullness.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:14

I get peace and contentment when God gets His glory in my life! TV makes no such promise :)

Please join me in making God our absolute treasure and our absolute joy. Join me in pleading with the Lord for joy in that will not fade.

Blessed be the name of the Lord!!!