A Dissatisfied Faith
Recently, I spoke at a student ministry conference on the subject of “Developing Missional Youth in a Consumer Culture.” It was a great opportunity to spend time with student ministry leaders and discuss the cultural pressures felt by teenagers. In preparation for the session, I came across this quote from Rodney Clapp.
Unique to modern capitalism and consumerism are the idealization and constant encouragement of insatiability—the deification of dissatisfaction. So it is that consumption has devoured classic Christian theology, and with it much of classical Christian practice.
The statement is made in his book Border Crossings: Christian Trespasses on Popular Culture and Public Affairs (188). The book was a Christianity Today book award winner in 2001.
As I prepared to teach student leaders about the youth of our culture, I was struck by the phrase Clapp used: “the deification of dissatisfaction.” Do we do that? Yes, we do. Our culture celebrates: a) not being satisfied with the “much” we already own and, b) the desire for the “more” we hope to get. Dissatisfaction has become our culture’s goddess and she has influenced our faith as well.
Our insatiability is part of the human condition. Eve wanted to know more, so she ate the fruit. King Saul wanted more power, so he hunted his rival. Solomon wanted more of everything, so we have the book of Ecclesiastes. The rich, young ruler wanted to keep the more he had, so we left the presence of Jesus disappointed. Simon the sorcerer wanted more of the divine power working in Peter, so he was rebuked for his egotism. We are a people who want more personal gain than almost anything else.
Even if we were to gain the more offered by the world, even if we were to gain the world, we would lose our souls. And, it would be nothing in comparison to the Christ. Christ is more than our bid for more. He is our all.
The church must be vigilant in guarding against the dissatisfaction touted by the world. We should want more, but not the more of stuff, things, and reputation. If a church family primarily wants more moving lights, programs, publications, and land, then an evaluation is in order.
But the same can be said of those who want more of the “less” regarding church life. Simplicity can become a task master as well. Desiring a culture of less programs, less structure, and less physical property can be a way of more other things can become a short path to more centralized power. Ego is a danger whatever the amount of humanity is involved. So what should we want more of?
We should want more intimacy with the Christ and power of His Spirit. But be warned. The more of Jesus comes by the less of self. In the end, we should be dissatisfied with what is of the Earth and insatiable with what is eternal.