Contentment without complacency

Some friends of mine and I were having a discussion about how "being content in all circumstances" seems to lead to a life of inaction. What would motivate you to rage against injustice if you were truly content? Why would you fight slavery (as a slave or a slave-owner) if you were content with your circumstances?

The Bible admonishes Christians to be content in all circumstances, yet contentment in the face of injustice smells like someone using religion to control me. The Christ that I serve redeems and frees me. So how do I reconcile contentment with the struggle to, if not bring heaven to earth, stave off hell on earth?

Enter John Piper, who's excellent article Dissatisfied Contentment deconstructs this idea. He starts from the premise of the pursuit of ultimate pleasure being a proper motivation for man - Christian hedonism.

"The loving person is the person who gives cheerfully, that is, who finds pleasure in giving. Precisely this pleasure pleases God; therefore, the person who abandons the pursuit of his own pleasure abandons the possibility of loving man and pleasing God."

From the premise he develops a position on why a content person would act. The bottom line is that a joyful content person overflows. Contentment and joy receive more contentment and joy when it sees others also having the same. Piper argues that this was the rationale for creation. It works for me. The original article is great.

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