on being content

“I have learned the secret of being content in any and very situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:11-13

Recently two things have been on my mind: what it means to be free, and why is it that certain sins seem perfectly acceptable to certain quarters of Christianity. I won’t go at length about how both have played out in my head but here’s how I think they’re linked.

The key to freedom is being content. Freedom from wanting more and more is not gained by getting stuff, but to finally take a step back and say that’s enough, I’ll enjoy what I have. The same applies to jobs, popularity, experiences in life – get while you can but at some point you realise that the desire for more will not be satisfied by getting stuff.

Heresies such as the acceptability of certain sins arise from a lot of things, but I think fundamentally it comes from not being awed by the cross: when we sin again and again and are showered with mercy time and time again, at some point we become numbed to it. These sins then start gaining acceptance, and some even publically declare this acceptability, but in doing so we forget the ridiculously lavish grace of the cross: that yes while Christians no longer suffer judgement for their sins, it is not due to the harmlessness or acceptability of the sin, it is due to the scars on Jesus’ wrists and side. It is absolutely ridiculous that continuously sinful Christians, that is all Christians, stand unimpeachable before God, because of a price paid on our behalf. But that’s the God we follow.

How does it tie together? Be content with God’s grace. Be content with God’s gift of stuff, job and friends, and the goodness this points (though it is easy for me to say this, blessed as I am), and that is a good kind of freedom, freedom from greed and worry and discontent.

In the same way we should be content with the gospel. Be content with what the Bible says, even if it doesn’t seem to make sense (and if it doesn’t, ask God about it!). Discontent with the scandalous, ridiculous lavishness of the cross will not only make me unsure of myself before God, it will lead me into one of two major heresies: Jesus-plus living, where I think that the gospel is not enough so I try to build on Jesus’ free grace with my own righteousness; or on the other end of the scale a kind of liberal wishy-washiness that accepts sin. Neither of these types of living help me stand in awe of the cross, and both hinder me from living by faith, by grace, and the happiness found in that.

Be content with what you have – because what you have is Jesus, along with everything that is his.

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