Hunger Games Series Intro: Is Being Content Lazy & Selfish?
This week I’m starting a new series entitled Hunger Games. I got the concept from Bertie Brits’ new book. In this post I’ll describe what he refers to as the hunger system that many Christians fall into, what the remedy is for it and why it’s so important.
I want to start with an excerpt from Lecrae’s latest book Unashamed because I think it fits well with what I’m trying to explain. For those who don’t know who Lecrae is, he’s a famous Christian rapper. In the first chapter he describes a few different situations surrounding his visit to the Grammy’s last year. He talks about how he showed up late for the red carpet and had to compete against all the major stars like Taylor Swift and Kanye West for attention from the press. He had to wait for 45 minutes to get his walk down the red carpet while everybody else was waived through before him. He also mentioned a Roc Nation party he attended earlier in the day hosted by Jay-Z and Beyonce and how everybody pretty much ignored him.
I’ve been a big fan of Lecrae over the years and have enjoyed watching his career take off. I figured he probably had to deal with a lot of persecution because he’s a Christian but the events surrounding the Grammy’s really magnified the effect. The guy has achieved an enormous amount of success, and was nominated for a category amongst many of the biggest stars in the industry. Yet, compared to them it’s like he was a nobody. It’s just a good reminder that no matter how much success you achieve, if you get your value and worth from that, you are setting yourself up for a fall. Many times we think if we just had the money and fame that these stars have, then all our problems would be solved. Not true. Your satisfaction needs to be rooted in something else if you want to have a solid foundation for your life. Here is the last paragraph Lecrae wrote in that chapter:
“I didn’t win the Grammy for “Best Rap Performance” that year, and I was surprisingly disappointed when my name wasn’t called. But in retrospect, I think I received something that was more valuable: a reminder that part of being human—and especially being Christian—means not fitting in and the only solution is learning to look to God for ultimate recognition. As I’ve said in songs and speeches, if you live for people’s acceptance, you’ll die from their rejection. This belief has made it possible to keep doing what I do and keep being who I am, unashamed.” ~ Lecrae (Unashamed Chapter 00 – Red Carpet Treatment).If you live for people’s acceptance, you’ll die from their rejection. ~ Lecrae Click To Tweet
The Hunger Game
So we see that Lecrae turned to God when he felt rejected by the world, but what most people do is try to figure out a way to get people to accept them rather than being rooted in their acceptance from God. This leads to us doing many destructive things to try to earn something that we already have. Bertie describes the hunger system in his book as; the place where we make use of principles, legalism or any good thing we need to do in order to produce the life of God in our life.
Bertie goes on to explain that this is how many churches keep people under their power…by keeping them hungry. They never actually feed them something that really satisfies them and this dissatisfaction and need is what fuels many ministries. They just keep telling their people if you work this principle, and if you can just do these good things more, then you can have the life of God. And the way you can work these principles and do these good things is to keep coming to my church and keep giving me money. It’s when you start to hear them say things like; “Have you been praying? Have you fasted? Are you giving enough?” Now many of these churches do this ignorantly, meaning they are not even aware that what they are doing is wrong…they think they are doing a good thing. So I’m not against anybody who might have preached this message, I have before as well. I’m just saying I’ve come to realize with the help of teaching like from Bertie the destructiveness of this belief system. It’s like trying to fill up on junk food. It just doesn’t work.Trying to find fulfillment from your works is like trying to fill up on junk food. It just doesn't work. Click To Tweet
The Gain is Godliness Mentality
I know this is not what most people want to hear and may not be the most exciting, but it’s what people need to hear…including myself. We tend to think, well I don’t see this happening in my life or I don’t have these things, so how can you say that I have them? We tend to get sucked into listening to “the secret to getting this” or “how to get that” type of messages. We love to be told the 5 steps about how to do something because then we can just go off and put our own will power to work instead of trusting God. That’s the whole walking by sight and not by faith thing. We’ve been trained to let our experiences tell us what we have rather than trusting God and His Word. We’re no longer content and living the “blessed with all spiritual blessings” life that Paul describes in Ephesians 1 and we feel that we need to go out and get things because we either believe we lack and/or we feel we need to prove our godliness to others.
When the “gain is godliness” mentality creeps in, contentment is over and it ruins our relationship with God. We no longer have time to spend with Him because we’re so busy trying to get all these things. It’s like we say to be happy with where we are and what we have is selfish or if we don’t go and get these greater things that we are backslidden. We get persuaded that being happy with where we are is an insult to God and a poor example to the world.
I’ve said this before, but just so it’s clear, I’m not against prosperity or having nice things. It’s just I know how easy it is to let the things have us and the destructive effects that happen as a result. As Bertie put it in his book:
“When money is the loudest voice one hears, the only “salvation” available is to find ways to make more money. We are no longer walking in innocence, but our eyes are opened to our “nakedness and poverty”, as they (prosperity preachers) put it and we feel ashamed.
This new “revelation” (Jesus died to give us more) also changes the way we feel about others. We feel greater and greater respect for the Christians who “had it made”, financially. We think those wealthy Christians must be doing something right to be so close to God and have such spiritual “revelation”. We think that we have no need to help the poor anymore because it’s their own fault through their disobedience.”
This type of preaching gets us all excited to learn more about what we can do to get all the things Jesus died for us to have. The Gospel is no longer about relationship with God, it now becomes our means to the American dream. His yoke is no longer easy. His burden is no longer light. Everything now depends on us. Ah but the joy and relief and satisfaction you start to experience when you realize what you already have and let God live through you instead of you trying to live for God. Your hunger is over forever.
Why Contentment Matters
This is why contentment is such a huge deal…it saves you from the treadmill lifestyle and poverty mentality that you continuously lack and need to strive for the more. It’s why I think it’s the most underrated of all the fruits of the spirit. Now Galatians 5 doesn’t specifically say contentment is a fruit of the spirit in any translations that I know of, but it does say that peace is. In a study on the word peace in that passage here is what I found to be some definitions:
– “the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsover sort that is”
– after the Hebrew שָׁלום, security, safety, prosperity, felicity,(because peace and harmony make and keep things safe and prosperous
– A divinely developed contentment and security even in the face of turmoil.
So contentment is kind of an indirect fruit of the spirit if you will. It coincides with and happens as a result of peace. I think we tend to get the idea that contentment is not really a big deal. Let’s just keep preaching about all this stuff we need to strive for because it sounds good, it’s what people want to hear and after all…we can’t just let them think everything is ok…then they will just sit on their couch and do nothing. This stems from not trusting God to compel people by His love. If you know anything about God, you know He is absolutely obsessed with people. He loves them so much. So if you hang around with Him, it will naturally rub off on you. We don’t need to motivate people by fear or try to persuade them of certain things we feel they should be doing…just reconcile them to God and let Him put it on their heart. Contentment allows you to enjoy where you are at while He gets you where you are going because you have a confident expectation of the life you already possess, not the life you are trying to get.Contentment allows you to enjoy where you are at while He gets you where you are going. Click To Tweet
What Is Contentment?
I want to elaborate on contentment a little more because I think many believe it’s the acceptance of suffering or being apathetic. While Jesus said we will have tribulation in this world, contentment;
– Is the basis from where we can live while God meets our needs and we face any tribulations that come our way
– Is to look at what you do have and not what you don’t have
– Allows you to simply enjoy your life as God cares for you – Bertie Brits
– Comes with a realization that you lack nothing and there is no need to add anything to your life
– Is not something you can fake and not something you make an intellectual decision about. It only comes from hearing the true Gospel message which gives you a revelation of how perfect you are in Christ
How To Be Content
So we see that contentment doesn’t have anything to do with our circumstances or what we have, but in who we are. Even a billionaire can be discontent if they are focused on what they don’t have.
Per the usual, to see if we really understand the Father’s heart in this matter, we need to bring it into family dynamics. Let me give you a few things to help with contentment.
– Think about this. Do you have to do something to be like your parents? No. You don’t have to try to be like your parents…you just are. You don’t have to try to get to some level that will then make you like your parents. You are made in God’s image and likeness. Hopefully that gives you some contentment about who you are and peace for you to be yourself.
– Think about this. Don’t parents love their kids unconditionally? Why do we let ourselves get tricked into thinking God is more pleased with us when we do certain things? There is nothing you can do to get God to love you any more or less. The thing He really wants you to get though, is how much He already loves you.
– Think about this. When parents are getting ready to have kids, don’t they prepare everything they can for them? Don’t they try to provide all they can to make the kids life the best they can? If you had the ideal situation for your kids wouldn’t you give them the best life possible? Do you think God would do any less? My point is, our desire to provide for our kids isn’t more than God’s. He has provided it all for us. It’s all there laid out like a buffet. If you’re hungry eat. Make use of what He’s provided. But you don’t have to go to another house or figure out a way to provide for yourself.
– We’ve been given the mind of Christ. Does the mind of Christ think it lacks anything it needs for life?
– Find out who God says you are then rest and relax in that. If you are not sure about your identity or need a reminder, Greg Henry preached a great message entitled “Complete In Christ” here.
For those who don’t know me that well, one thing I can say about myself is that I am an extremely hard worker. I worked a full-time job while going to Oakland University and have been working full-time for most of the past 4 years while I attended Bible college. Being that I’m athletic and love sports, I’m at the gym usually 4 times a week and play all kinds of sports in addition to that. To give you an example of my work ethic, one of my managers gave our sales team a random effort test in which it was found that I was making close to 400 calls a day where the next closest person to me was around 100. I’ve been on mission trips, I witness to people on the streets, I serve at my church, I’ve written this blog on a weekly basis for over 6 months now and I’ve even cold called for Jesus. I have a strong desire to see the Gospel preached and have done a lot to spread the Word. I’ve learned through many hard knocks the importance of preparation and doing things the right way. All this to say, I don’t preach this type of a message because I’m a lazy person and just want to sit on the couch and do nothing all day.
So it took a long time for me to finally allow myself to believe it’s ok to be content with where I am. The sooner you do this the better. It will save you a lot of pain and agony. Being content doesn’t mean you’re settling for less than God’s best. It just means you have an understanding about what God thinks of you and a confident expectation of what He will do in your life. This allows you to get your mind off of areas you feel you lack in and go back to walking in the cool of the day with God.
Still some may say being content is selfish because it’s only believing for yourself. Well I would say that you can’t give what you don’t first receive. If you are carrying all of these heavy burdens, how are you ever going to be able to give peace and joy to others? The contentment one receives from God frees you up to be able to minister in any way God needs you to rather than having to put Him on hold because you are so concerned about all these things you feel you need to get that you think you lack.
In the rest of this series I’ll be talking more about how it is that Christians can truly be satisfied, the rest of God, expecting and receiving from God and walking in the cool of the day. Be sure to come back and check those out in the upcoming weeks and let me know if you have any questions in the meantime. Thanks for stopping by.