Contentment and Faith are NOT opposites

Years ago I remember listening to a radio “faith” preacher make a startling statement.  He and the host of the show were talking about a small plane that had crashed, tragically killing everyone on-board, including a pretty famous preacher. The preacher said, “If I had been on that plane it would not have crashed.  I would have taken dominion over that situation.”  He then went on to explain how that God’s promises alone define our destiny and that we are promised at least “three score and ten” years (a reference to Psalm 90:10). According to this preacher God’s already done everything He can do for our victory and prosperity. Jesus won back absolute authority for every believer at the Cross.  Now He’s waiting on us to exercise that full dominion now and to rule  as kings in the realm of life.

Some of you have heard this sort of “faith” theology.  I spent a few years sincerely experimenting with that stuff in the late 1980’s and early 90’s.  Hopefully you are not still in it. But tragically, the underlying presuppositions have been repackaged and given new terminology today.  It is very much still alive in churches and ministries. Actually it has been mainstreamed.

The preacher went on to say that even the Apostle Paul didn’t fully understand the dominion God has given us.  At the time I was still experimenting with the “word of faith” stuff. But I had this question come into my mind instantly while listening to this guy:  “Did he say what I thought he said? He just said that he has revelation that is more accurate than the Scriptures. That is crazy.”

Apparently, this man felt that he and other anointed teachers today have a special revelation from God in this period of church history that the Apostles of our Lord were not graced with!  For instance, if Paul had only been privileged to know what this faith preacher knew, he would never have penned:

I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
(Philippians 4.12-13)

The problems with the “prosperity gospel” and “kingdom now” theology (and all its cousins and offshoots) are many.  But perhaps the biggest one is that it undermines the power of learning the secret of contentment right now in the present moment and season.  Hyper-faith folks would say that this is really just a subtle form of unbelief:

How can you tell someone to be content with something that is clearly less than what the Word of God reveals as God’s best for you?

That’s a fair question, I suppose. Unless, you consciously have read and then have disregarded the almost countless biblical texts and examples of people who exhibited patience and contentment in places and conditions less than God’s ultimately promised “best”.

There are a few things I want to say in relation to this.  Most of it will have to wait until the next post. But let me finish today with a statement about contentment from a great Christian thinker from the last century, G.K. Chesterton:

True contentment is a thing as active as agriculture. It is the power of getting out of any situation all that there is in it. It is arduous and it is rare.

What does he mean?  He means that the Apostle Paul was right.  God is able to work ALL things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)  All things means ALL things.

To always be looking for better circumstances, better options, better weather, better wives, better churches, better health, better anything…can actually be idolatrous.  For it can keep you from receiving what God is saying and doing right now, in the midst of less than ideal circumstances.

By the way, when the Apostle Paul penned the great statement about learning contentment (see above), he was actually giving a testimony!  He was a prisoner in Rome. Definitely less than God’s ultimately promised freedom. But Paul dug deep into God during the ordeal and found a wealth in Christ!

Friend, if you’ll trust God right now, right where you are, you too can find Christ to be more than you expected!  You can actually experience deep contentment in the face of great challenges.

More next time.

2 thoughts on “Contentment and Faith are NOT opposites

  1. Kevin Murray says:

    Thanks, Dane. There’s a great book by a Puritan author, Jeremiah Burroughs, called The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment. One of the best I’ve read. Makes the broader point that contentment is not by addition, but by subtraction.

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