There’s a virtue that has evaded me for some time. It’s contentment. Whether it is due to my personality or can be blamed on circumstance is often indiscernible, Regardless, I have been guilty of a certain kind of restlessness, a kind I wish to depose. Contentment is its own apologetic but it’s hard to be content in our present society.
For years my father has told me that I need to be content. I have had a rebellious personality and a reforming spirit. After my interest in apologetics was stirred, it gave me an avenue to express that. All the while, my father’s attempts to correct that confused me.
Aren’t we supposed to defend the Faith?
Shouldn’t we be ready to give an answer?
Why couldn’t my dad see what was plainly written in Scripture?
Disillusion or confusion
Part of my confusion comes from a disagreement in the proper roles Christians play. He, like so many other faithful Christians, doesn’t see the need to defend the Faith. I, on the other hand, have seen first-hand the results of that kind of apathy. Furthermore, I read the poles and listen to people who understand how the absence of loving God with our minds has left the Church in a precarious position. It’s becoming cliché but still worth repeating that the Church in America is falling victim to various intellectual maladies. The proof is in the pudding each time Barna comes out with new research on the subject.
I have over-reacted at times to this kind of information, though. It is too often evident in my attitude when I teach, and flows across the screen of my writings. In the face of adversity, I am not content.
But, in the words of my pastor, don’t hear what I’m not saying.
I am not giving up. Neither am I saying that apathy or carelessness is preferable to discontent. They are part of the problem. My discontentedness is merely an overcorrection.
I have not come to understand my need for contentment suddenly though. Neither have I reached the zenith of satisfaction. I am a long way from that. I will have to learn to be content with God’s help. It will be a process.
The essence of discontent
There seems to be one thing that sticks in my crawl when I consider why I need to be content as I contend for the Faith. It is as follows. My lack of contentment is essentially a lack of faith.
That’s disappointing to me for several reasons. But, it’s redeemable.
I will explore that later but for now I hope it is enough to present the problem.
The being of being content
Contentment is the result of confidence. Confidence comes from the Latin con-with and fide’-Faith. Therefore, to be discontent is to lack faith.
Some folks are discontent because they lack faith in their ability. Maybe they aren’t confident in their communication skills, rhetorical wit, or subject knowledge. Some have personality traits that lend themselves to a lack of confidence. I am not willing to chastise each and every person for their lack of contentment although it may be helpful for them to examine their discontent and lack of confidence.
Me, myself, and why?
I present my own discontent as the example. In my opinion it all boils down to my lack of faith in Jesus.
If Jesus is sovereign, I ought to be confident in his ability, not mine. Hasn’t he shown himself to be reliable? If I have been responsible to do the work of being ready to give an answer for the hope I have in Christ, there’s a certain point that I need to trust that he will do his work. It’s when I don’t really believe that he will that I am discontent.
It’s then that I begin to trust the method more than the Master. I become restless, always looking for ways to force my arguments or manipulate my audience. Instead of defending the hope of Christ my hope of self-aggrandizement or self-recognition is up for contention and I become contentious…without contentment.
Convey or betray
That kind of apologist lacks appeal. It’s hard for people to put their finger on it but even though my arguments are convincing, there’s something unappealing about the way I argue. My lack of contentment betrays my lack of confidence. It betrays Christ.
There’s not much more I can say other than this: a confident man is convincing and a contented man is confident. He laughs at what is funny, cries in the face of tragedy, scorns injustice, and admonishes the fool with their own foolishness…contentedly. Contentment is its own apologetic.
“Only if we are secure in our beliefs can we see the comical side of the universe.”-Flannery O’Connor