More Than Heroes, We Need a…

Of course, we need people to look up to, especially in an age of acute ambition – which is another good reason to have older saints, mentoring the younger.  More than heroes, though, we need a Savior.  Then we also need ordinary people around us who exemplify godly qualities and take the time to invest in our lives.  Paul even called his young apprentices and churches to follow his example.  Yet the characteristics he mentions are his undistracted focus on the gospel, humility, love for all the saints and contentment (II Thessalonions 3:9)

– Horton, Michael, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World; Zondervan; copyright 214; Kindle Edition; page 154-155

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It Is the Lord’s to Give and to Take Away

Contentment is the virtue that contrasts with restlessness, ambition, avarice.  It means realizing, once again, that we are not our own – as pastors or parishoners, parents or children, employers or employees.  It is the Lord’s to give and to take away.  He is building his church.  It is his ministry that is saving and building up his body.  even our common callings in the world are not really our own, but they are God’s work of supplying others – including ourselves – with what the whole society needs.  There is a lot of work to be done, but it is his work that he is doing through us in daily and mostly ordinary ways.

– Horton, Michael, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World; Zondervan; copyright 214; Kindle Edition; page 150-151

Contentment There and Here

Contentment is actually easier for those who leave the comforts of hearth and home to serve the disadvantaged in Africa than it is for those who live near the mall.  If God has given you temporal wealth and position, use it for his glory and your neighbor’s good.

– Horton, Michael, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World; Zondervan; copyright 214; Kindle Edition; page 139

The Call to Contentment is a Summons to Something Much More

All of this means that the call to contentment is a summons to realize and accept our place in Christ and his body – and, more broadly, our place in the gift exchange in society through common grace.  This cuts off at the root the discontentment – ambition – to change our station in life not only in the direction of prosperity, but also in a self-imposed poverty (Philippians 4:12-13).

– Horton, Michael, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World; Zondervan; copyright 214; Kindle Edition; page 138-139

So What Does It Mean to be Content with God’s Provision?

So what does it mean to be content with God’s provision?  It means that when you and I are safely hidden with Christ in God through faith in his gospel, we are opened up to the others around us – first fellow saints, and then our other neighbors.  Instead of being threats, they are fellow guests of God at his table.  No longer competitors for commodities in a world of scare resources, they are cosharers with us in the circulation of gifts that flows outward from its source without running out.  After all, that source is the triune God: from the father, in the Son, by the Spirit.

– Horton, Michael, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World; Zondervan; copyright 214; Kindle Edition; page135

The Line Between Contentment and Ambition

If ambition has been converted from a vice to a virtue, contentment has been transformed from a virtue into a vice.  Think of how we use the word in normal conversations.  It has come to mean settling for second best (which is always wrong).  Lacking sufficient ambition, one is content to be something less than what he or she is capable of being.

– Horton, Michael, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World; Zondervan; copyright 214; Kindle Edition; page 127

The Cure for Selfish Ambition and Restless Devotion

The cure for selfish ambition and restless devotion to The Next Big Thing is contentment.  But like happiness, excellence and drive, contentment is not something you can just generate from within.  It has to have an object.  There must be someone or something that is so satisfying that we can sing “Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also.”

– Horton, Michael, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World; Zondervan; copyright 214; Kindle Edition; page 123