Tuesday, September 24, 2013
From Whence Contentment?
And this is where the church does a great disservice. We form people into clients who look to the church as a route to personal happiness rather than as people who can discern meaning.Kruse then goes on to discuss this int eh context of work - that is to say, giving meaning to our daily work, whatever that may be. But I think is comments are deeper than that. Happiness is a transitory thing and subject to so many uncontrollable external variables. In the extensive quote Kruse presented there is this gem:
Meaning is not only about transcending the self, but also about transcending the present moment -- which is perhaps the most important finding of the study, according to the researchers. While happiness is an emotion felt in the here and now, it ultimately fades away, just as all emotions do; positive affect and feelings of pleasure are fleeting.I cannot recall "happiness" appearing in the Bible much, but the "peace which passes all understanding" - and "life abundantly" do. I understand these things to be about contentment. That is a lack of emotional turmoil when the world around us is in turmoil. That is an understanding that we are in God's hands and despite our external circumstance, all will be well in the end. That is a sense that whatever we are doing right now, in the moment - it is what God would have us do.
This is a key place where the church separates widely from the predominant culture. It is also a place where a significant portion of the church has chosen to lose its distinction from the predominant culture.
I cannot help but note that Jesus managed to spread His message while remaining quite distinct from the predominant culture. So why do we feel the need to conform to be heard?