Satisfied: Peace, Contentment, Fulfillment

The Christianity that Most Christians have Missed


A Radical Call to Authentic Christianity

By Grantley Morris


As someone who looks to drugs for fulfillment will find himself hollowed out by cravings and gnawing emptiness, so are we when we look for fulfillment in whatever is popularly hoped could bring it. There are many contenders – sex, romantic highs, financial prosperity, status, popularity are a few – but the net result is an endless striving, a chasing after a vapor.

Our current economy is fueled by greed, envy, covetousness, lust, dissatisfaction and insecurity (such as fear of being rejected if we don’t have the latest clothes, accessories, beauty products, status symbols, or whatever). We fill with frustration, and the only answer we’ve got is more, more, more. We find ourselves so frantically spinning our wheels on ice that we don’t realize that our only direction is down.

This is so much the disease of our age that if we want solutions we will have to look somewhere other than modern society. We need to discover the power of an ancient secret. The liberating truth we need is in the Bible, of course, and yet we are so infected by the inferior – so frenzied and diseased by the incessant craving for more and more of what never satisfies – that we rarely even see the answer when we stare right at it in the Word of God.

We will start with the glaringly obvious – materialism – but these Scriptures highlight a broader issue: although it is important never to settle for less than God’s best, there are many things that God expects us to learn to be content with.

We rarely recall the context of the famous Scripture, “I can do all things through Christ” (KJV). It refers to being empowered to find contentment in less than ideal circumstances. Don’t just slide your eye over it; read this as if your life depended on it:

    Philippians 4:11-13 Not that I speak in respect to lack, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content in it. I know how to be humbled, and I know also how to abound. In everything and in all things I have learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in need. I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.

How many of us have the slightest desire to follow the Apostle’s lead in learning the secret of being content with an empty stomach? (Yes, that Scripture says “ . . . to be filled and to be hungry . . . ”) And yet if we dare open our eyes, this keeps popping up in the Bible. Study these words:

    1 Timothy 6:6-11 But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we certainly can’t carry anything out. But having food and clothing, we will be content with that. But those who are determined to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful lusts, such as drown men in ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some have been led astray from the faith in their greed, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you, man of God, flee these things . . .

For most of us, our thinking is disturbingly at odds with biblical thinking. Note that the first Scripture below, written in an agricultural society, speaks of life-threatening, economic disaster:

    Habakkuk 3:17-18 For though the fig tree doesn’t flourish, nor fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive fails, the fields yield no food; the flocks are cut off from the fold, and there is no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!

    Hebrews 10:34 For you . . . joyfully accepted the plundering of your possessions, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and an enduring one in the heavens. (Emphasis mine.)

Materialism is just one of the roads that takes us further and further from contentment and fulfillment. There are other dangers to expose, so we won’t dwell long on material prosperity. This is just a launching pad, but could you bear with me briefly? Here are some more thoughts that tend not to sit too comfortably with modern Christians.

    Proverbs 30:8 Remove far from me falsehood and lies. Give me neither poverty nor riches. Feed me with the food that is needful for me

    Colossians 3:5 Put to death therefore your members which are on the earth: sexual immorality, uncleanness, depraved passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry

    Luke 8:14 That which fell among the thorns, these are those who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.

    Luke 12:15  . . . “Beware! Keep yourselves from covetousness, for a man’s life doesn’t consist of the abundance of the things which he possesses.”

    Matthew 5:39-42 But I tell you, don’t resist him who is evil; but whoever strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. If anyone sues you to take away your coat, let him have your cloak also. Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and don’t turn away him who desires to borrow from you.

    Matthew 6:25,27,31-32,34 Therefore I tell you, don’t be anxious for your life: what you will eat, or what you will drink; nor yet for your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food, and the body more than clothing? . . . Which of you, by being anxious, can add one moment to his lifespan? . . . Therefore don’t be anxious, saying, ‘What will we eat?’, ‘What will we drink?’ or, ‘With what will we be clothed?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. . . . Therefore don’t be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Each day’s own evil is sufficient.

I’ve shared just a few samples from a biblical theme frequently emphasized by the inspired writers. For a few more examples of warnings about the dangerously addictive and deceptive hollowness of material prosperity see Affluence.

Here’s an inkling that being content with what we have goes way beyond materialism:

    1 Corinthians 7:17-18,21,24,27 Only, as the Lord has distributed to each man, as God has called each, so let him walk. So I command in all the assemblies. Was anyone called having been circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Has anyone been called in uncircumcision? Let him not be circumcised. . . . Were you called being a bondservant? Don’t let that bother you, but if you get an opportunity to become free, use it. . . . Brothers, let each man, in whatever condition he was called, stay in that condition with God. . . . Are you bound to a wife? Don’t seek to be freed. Are you free from a wife? Don’t seek a wife.

You might think, “Ha! That’s okay for Paul to talk about being content as a slave! He might have denied himself marital and family joys, but he was a free man traveling the Roman Empire!” Not quite. It was from prison that he wrote in Philippians about having learnt to be content in all circumstances. He was in chains with even less freedom than many slaves when he kept writing about joy and rejoicing in the Lord (Scriptures).

“Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never thirst again” Jesus told the woman who had five husbands and was now living with yet another man (John 4:13-14). The woman at the well was driven by a craving that was clearly not being satisfied. At an exorbitant emotional cost, her restless searching had taken her from man to man to man to man to man to man, with her heart being repeatedly shattered into smaller and smaller pieces.

Sadly, this is disconcertingly close to what most modern Christians, even those with high morals, suffer today. They call it dating and vainly hope the habit they have concreted into their lives will somehow magically disappear after signing a marriage license. The mentally dangerous habit commonly nurtured by modern Christian singles is that of going from heartbreak to heartbreak in a blind search for a drug-like euphoria known as being “in love”. Those who seem to succeed in this quest usually find themselves hooked on romantic highs that scientists insist can only last with one partner for a probable maximum of thirty months (See The Chemical Cocktail of Love). Like the woman at the well, hoping for lasting happiness through romantic highs just keeps its victims aching for more.

Other societies have dealt with matters of the heart quite differently to the mess our society has made of things. I Kissed Dating Goodbye is a Christian book by Joshua Harris that challenges current worldly wisdom on this matter. Never expecting to find women willing to date me, I’ve not read the book but more normal singles might like to check it out.

Just as materialism is not the focus of this webpage, neither is romance and marital fulfillment. We are considering these matters only because they are symptoms that point to the problem – a problem even bigger, and scarier than we dare think.

So, back to the woman who kept finding herself thirsting for more. Jesus claimed to be able to do what years and years of frantic searching and countless men had failed to do – to totally satisfy this desperately needy woman.

I must hit you between the eyes with something so obvious that most of us miss it: Jesus did not offer her a divine matchmaking service. The frightening thing about most Christians is that we hope to use God as our Fairy Godmother who will grant us what we think we need. Don’t ever expect to find the Lord of creation in drag, waving a magic wand. Expect a God-sized solution that is so radically different to what you thought you needed that you probably won’t even recognize it as the answer.

The stupendous intellect of the infinite Lord moves in ways that soar as far beyond the powers of human imagination as the stars are distant from this planet’s dirt. God’s ways are shatteringly different to what any politician or scientist or fashion expert or overpaid entertainer can dream up.

You’ll soon see why I’ve saved the following Scripture until now:

    Hebrews 13:5-6 Be free from the love of money, content with such things as you have, for he has said, “I will in no way leave you, neither will I in any way forsake you.” So that with good courage we say, “The Lord is my helper. I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

Here again, God’s Word speaks of finding contentment in situations where few of today’s Christians could find contentment. What this Scripture highlights, however, is that the basis of true contentment is not ease or possessions or even human relationships, but you enjoying never-ending companionship with God himself. The above Scripture culminates with the staggering claim that with God as your companion, you’ve got it made, even if all of humanity is against you.

To me, the following is one of the saddest verses in the Bible:

    Jeremiah 2:13 For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the spring of living waters, and cut them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

The Bible does not say seek God in order to find happiness and contentment. It says seek God. It does not say God is your ticket to getting what you really need, it says God himself is what you really need. To dare put in your life anything else in God’s place is dumber than substituting dust for everything you eat, or substituting pure laughing gas for the air that keeps you alive.

Consider this Scripture:

    James 4:2  . . . You don’t have, because you don’t ask.

Taken out of context – something we tend to be experts at – we can think, “Wow! Forget a genie in a magic lamp, I’ve found the secret to getting everything my greedy heart lusts after!” The context, however, reveals something very different:

    James 4:2-3 You lust, and don’t have. You murder and covet, and can’t obtain. You fight and make war. You don’t have, because you don’t ask. You ask, and don’t receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it for your pleasures.

God, in his Word, is saying, “You miss out on what you really need, because instead of seeking God for eternal things, you think you can use him as a means of getting what non-Christians foolishly crave.”

If a heroin addict should not claim, “My God shall supply all my heroin according to his riches in Christ Jesus,” neither should an addict to worldliness expect God to provide us with what seems to shine with excitement and gleam with the promise of fulfillment but is actually the bait on a deadly trap laid by the sinister spiritual forces that manipulate the world system. God tells us to forsake the things we crave, not because he is a killjoy, but because they kill joy.

Each of us are capable of being so mesmerized by the illusion of worldly happiness that we suppose it must be the way to true happiness and therefore must be of God. So we start building it into our theology and even our salvation message, just as the New Testament warns. 2 Peter 2:1 promises “false teachers will also be among you”. It goes on to say of those who had once “escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord”:

    2 Peter 2:18-21 For, uttering great swelling words of emptiness, they entice in the lusts of the flesh, by licentiousness, those who are indeed escaping from those who live in error; promising them liberty, while they themselves are bondservants of corruption; for a man is brought into bondage by whoever overcomes him. For if, after they have escaped the defilement of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in it and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.

Likewise, another apostle warns against a way of church growth:

    2 Timothy 4:3,5 For the time will come when they will not listen to the sound doctrine, but, having itching ears, will heap up for themselves teachers after their own lusts . . . But you be sober in all things, suffer hardship, do the work of an evangelist, and fulfill your ministry. . . .

Christians like me do not realize the enormity of the gulf between God’s ways and our ways because we are so drugged by worldly presumptions that we cannot think straight.

Wrong thinking permeates every part of us, corrupting us far more extensively and profoundly than we would ever have guessed. Worldly thinking hits us all. It is not like a wound that hurts only part of us, it’s like an infection spreading throughout our entire being. Tolerating just one aspect of worldliness – perhaps selfish ambition or pride or lust– and hoping it will not contaminate completely unrelated parts of us, is as dangerous as tolerating cancer in part of our body, hoping it will not spread.

As a consequence, sins are more interconnected than we imagine. For example, when describing the sins of Sodom, Ezekiel didn’t even mention sexuality. Instead, he zeroed in on arrogance, affluence, and selfish disregard for the needy (Ezekiel 16:49). Today’s sexual decadence is but a symptom of a much more extensive moral sickness. It is frighteningly easy for us to point the finger at others when we are as infected by the same basic corruption as those we feel superior to.

Let’s briefly explore an example of this interconnectedness.

Almost all of us have been bitten by the deadly, disease-carrying “bigger, brighter, better” bug. This spiritually crippling disease affects us far more extensively than we realize. Why is it that Christian marriages are falling apart almost as rapidly as non-Christian marriages? Because we think in some areas of life we can get away with ignoring God’s directive to be content with what we have, without it corrupting other areas of life.

    Proverbs 5:18-19  . . . Rejoice in the wife of your youth. . . . let her breasts satisfy you at all times. Be captivated always with her love.

If today’s Christians can’t stay content with their income and status, what makes us suppose they could stay content with their marriage partner?

We live in a society where anyone who does not keep trading up and up, is seen as a failure. Do you expect people to feel good about themselves if they still have the same car, house, furniture and appliances that they had when they married, twenty years ago? If not, can you really expect those same people to feel good about having the same old spouse they had twenty years ago?

A man is almost considered a loser if he remains faithful to his employer for life (and if he does remain with the one company he is seen as a failure unless he keeps “advancing” to position after position in his career). If this is so, who can expect him to feel good about himself if he keeps the same old wife, year after year after year?

For today’s man to be regarded as a success he is expected to trash last year’s gear and surround himself with things that are sparklingly new, look good and are the latest fad. Just as he “needs” the car that people drool over, he must have the wife that men lust after. The woman on his arm is his latest fashion statement and status symbol. Do you seriously expect him to keep trading up to the latest model in everything except this wife? If he must have the latest model car, his wife must also be the latest model. Unless she is sleek and new and beautiful, his claim to success looks decidedly drab.

    Ecclesiastes 4:4 Then I saw all the labor and achievement that is the envy of a man’s neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.

We are immersed in a world that exalts competitiveness – secretly hoping others will fail; trampling on other people in one’s rush to the top – and ambition – never happy; always clawing for more. The world presses in on us from every side and is highly contagious. Have we escaped the corruption of the world, only to become re-infected by its deadly restlessness; a continual striving for what never satisfies?

    Ecclesiastes 1:8 . . . The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.

    Ecclesiastes 5:10 He who loves silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance, with increase: this also is vanity.

    Ecclesiastes 6:7 All the labor of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled.

    Jeremiah 2:13 For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the spring of living waters, and cut them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

I worry that we are drunk on this world. We don’t want to give it up, yet we want to keep our marriage and the spiritual things we value. Does that make us like drunks who don’t want a hangover but want to keep drinking? Could we be hooked on one of the world’s mirages of fulfillment – a soul-destroying emptiness that first entices, then ensnares and finally depraves?

Continued: The Shocking Secret of Happiness

© 2008, Grantley Morris. May be freely copied in whole or in part provided: it is not altered; this entire paragraph is included; readers are not charged and it is not used in a webpage. Many more compassionate, inspiring, sometimes hilarious writings available free online at www.net-burst.net  Freely you have received, freely give. For use outside these limits, consult the author.


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