The story is told of a time when Abraham Lincoln (before he was President) was walking through town with two of his young sons. The two boys were crying and visibly unhappy. A friend stopped Mr. Lincoln and asked him what was wrong with the two boys, to which he supposedly replied, “Exactly what’s wrong with the whole world…I have three walnuts and each boy wants two.”
To some degree, we can all identify with this story. We live in a world that is consumed with consuming. Even though Jesus taught that life does not consist in the abundance of our possessions (Luke 12:15), we continue to live as though it does. We know what it is to be always spending, but never satisfied.
Years ago, the comic Flip Wilson used to do a satirical bit of comedy known as “The Church of What’s Happening Now.” More recently, a theologian by the name of Mark Buchanan wrote a short piece, “The Cult of the Next Thing.”
“I belong to the Cult of the Next Thing. It’s dangerously easy to get enlisted. It happens by default – not by choosing the cult, but by failing to resist it. The Cult of the Next Thing is consumerism cast in religious terms. It has its own litany of sacred words: more, you deserve it, new, faster, cleaner, brighter…It has its own deep-rooted liturgy: change, instant credit, no down-payment, no interest for three (or more) months. It has its own preachers, evangelists, prophets, and apostles: ad men, pitchmen, and celebrity sponsors. It has, of course, its own shrines, chapels, temples, meccas: malls, superstores, club warehouses. It has its own sacraments: credit and debit cards. It has its own ecstatic experience: the spending spree. The Cult of the Next Thing’s central message proclaims – ’Crave and spend, for the Kingdom of Stuff is here!’”
Rather than being content with what we have, we always crave something else. But what about glorifying and serving God? Do we need more and constantly different “things” for that? If so, He would provide them for us (Matt. 6:33-34). But, in truth, we are currently exactly right where we need to be. We have all we truly need to have. Therefore we can answer God’s call to glorify Him right now! Instead of saying, “If I only had this” or “If only I had that” we should be serving Him in this, our current situation!
After many trials and hardships, Paul finally learned the lesson of contentment: “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him Who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:11-13).
May we all be satisfied and content with what our God has so richly provided for us. May we all be completely satisfied with our God. He is all we need; then, if trials and hardships come, we can say with Paul, “I can deal with everything that comes my way,” because, “I can do all things through Him Who strengthens me.” – Bart Warren, South Green St. church of Christ, Glasgow, KY