This is a guest post by Erik Raymond, author of Chasing Contentment: Trusting God in a Discontented Age. The following content is taken from Crossway.org; used with permission.
Culture and Contentment
Culture is like a big magnet, it’s pulling on us and around us. Entertainment and even conversations—everywhere we go there’s temptation toward discontentment.
1. Discontentment with Sexual Boundaries
Pornography is a huge problem—sexual immorality in general, but in particular pornography. It starts in the heart of the man or the woman who is desirous of an image, so they pursue it by going on the phone, or the computer, or a printed form, because they’re not content with what God has given them. God has sanctioned sexuality and sexual relations to be within the context of marriage. He put it there and said it was beautiful and to enjoy it. But discontentment with what God has given leads them to the tree to eat the forbidden fruit of pornography. They want the benefit without the context. Pursuing that outside of God’s sanction just draws us away, and you see lives ruined, and minds and relationships hurt because of it.
2. Discontentment with Body Image
What is an acceptable body image? Who determines what that is? It's whatever is on your Instagram, or on the cover of the magazine, or in the movies that determine what an acceptable body image is, whether for women or for men. But who really determines what that is?
There is an accepted norm—there’s a canon—of what a body should look like, and people are pursuing that. When we don’t measure up—and let’s admit that nobody is measuring up—we find ourselves discouraged, discontent, and deflated. And then that causes significant problems in our lives because we feel down and begin grumbling, and eating disorders and other struggles can come out of that.
3. Discontentment with Identity
Think about technology: suicides, bullying, and depression affects particularly younger people because of their social media status. If they’re not getting likes, or they don’t have enough influence, then they can become crushed. There is a desire for an identity and for acceptance, and when it doesn’t measure up, there grows an extreme level of discontent and even some dangerous things as a result.
4. Discontentment with Success
Think about business professionals and the desire for power and money. Being successful at work professionally is a good thing. It’s good that God’s giving us work to do. But when turned inward on itself, desire for self to be great or to make an extreme amount of money—even at the expense of loving our brother and sister and working hard for God—can become a very deflating and discouraging thing that breeds more discontentment.
The Bible Brings Us to God
The Bible will help us—the gospel answers all of these things. If you have pornography issues, the Word of God that says marriage is to be revered and that’s the place where a sexual relationship is to be enjoyed. If you have body image issues, what God says about you is ultimately your image and that’s what’s to be clung to. In technology and status, the Bible brings you back to where your true standing is. And power isn’t amassing a great multitude of money and influence, but rather it’s found in service and weakness.
The Bible brings us back to God and shows us that these cisterns that we’re attempting to satisfy ourselves with are broken and rusted out. We are hungry and hurting and thirsty and we cannot quench that thirst or satiate that hunger by these tools of the world. They’re packaged with wrappers that are so shiny that they appear to be good, but inside the shiny wrappers there is death, destruction, pain, and suffering. So we must find ourselves clinging to God and running to God as the source of our contentment.
Erik Raymond is the preaching pastor at Emmaus Bible Church in Omaha, Nebraska. He is a frequent contributor to many websites and periodicals, and blogs regularly at Ordinary Pastor, hosted by the Gospel Coalition.
Image courtesy: ©Thinkstock/Merlas
Publication date: March 30, 2017