At Work & Economics 101 & Public Square & Theology 101

Three Reasons You Shouldn’t Be Content

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If you are happy with what you have and the way things are, you may not be responding to the call of Scripture. There is no part of Scripture that tells us to passively sit back and watch life go by, and there is no part of Scripture that implies that the status quo of this world is acceptable.

If you believe that we as Christians are just here to get saved and get our bus ticket to heaven while we try to evangelize to others, then you are not actively embracing the call of the cultural mandate. Yes, we are called to evangelize. This is critically important. But we are also called to work, to create, to build cities, and to bring our unique contributions with their everlasting significance to bear on our lives and the lives of others, right now.

One of my favorite passages in Scripture is 1 Corinthians 9:24-27:

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

The four-chapter gospel illustrates to us that we are here with a purpose and that our earthly efforts have eternal impact. This is a race. It’s a fight to bring flourishing and hope to a dark world. Our work here is part of God’s redemptive process. It will bear fruit in the new heavens and new earth.

These are high stakes, which is why you should not be happy with what you have. That implies passivity. The words of the Bible are action words: Persevere. Strive. Fight. Triumph. Build. Create.

It would be easy to confuse passivity with contentment, but that would be incorrect. Hugh Whelchel helps us better understand the biblical meaning of contentment:

Paul tells the Philippians that he has learned “the secret” of being content in any and every situation. Paul’s secret is that he is always striving to do what God has called him to do.

We can be content when we know in our heart that at the end of each day, we did all we could do to answer the call God has placed on each of our lives. Contentment comes with knowing that you lived to your potential and harnessed your creativity to be the best that you could be.

With all this in mind, here are three reasons we should not be content with what we have:

We Have Eternal Vision

What we do now matters not just for today but for eternity. When we live in the light of eternity, we will choose differently because we see life from a different perspective.

We Fight to Win

Paul’s letter to the Corinthians tells us that we fight for an imperishable crown. We don’t strive for salvation (that is a free gift from God, Ephesians 2:9), but the contributions we will make in the here and now are important, because, as N.T. Wright notes,

Everything you do in the present, in the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ, everything that flows out of love and hope and grace and goodness, somehow will be part of God’s eventual Kingdom.

We are called to win in all things God calls us to pursue. For those that have for-profit jobs, this translates into being the best by offering high quality goods and services that improve the lives of others.

Our Potential Comes from the God Who Created You

You have something to offer the world, and through your gifts and talents you can create more than what you were born into. You have an eternal legacy to leave. These gifts and talents position you to contribute to the flourishing of the world.

The great innovations of the last two centuries—from the assembly line, to the polio vaccine, to the micro-processor—have all occurred because people were not happy with what they had with the way things were. They had a vision and saw a better way of doing things. This is the call of the cultural mandate, and it applies to our volunteer work, our spiritual lives, and our employment.

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