Trusting God brings contentment, Crist tells Chapel
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
From his perch on the Chapel stage in Grand Canyon University Arena on Monday morning, Terry Crist was, for all practical purposes, asking his audience this question:
Is anyone out there truly happy?
Too often, the answer in today’s world seems to be a resounding no, but the pastor of Hillsong Church Phoenix pointed out that it’s not just a modern issue. The Bible, he said, is a tableau of tensions, such as grace vs. truth, faith vs. works, and divine sovereignty vs. human responsibility.
As Crist has traveled the world to preach the gospel, he has come to believe that one of the biggest conflicts of all is the tug-of-war between contentment and ambition. It’s not confined to certain cultures or generations. It’s not a question of income or social status.
Everyone seems to be asking the same questions: What’s good? What’s good enough? Where should we put our desires on the spectrum between accepting and expecting?
“At the most basic level of the soul,” Crist said, “we all long for contentment.”
Crist suggested that as much as we’d like to resolve the tensions of Scripture, a better approach is to learn how to manage them. And for an example of that, we need to look no further than Paul in Chapter 4 of his letter to the Philippians. In a highly unusual thank you note, Paul wrote in verses 11-13:
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”
A recent study, Crist noted, showed that people today have their best chance to be content in the year they turn 74. He went through all the times in his life when he felt discontentment. When he was young, for example, he yearned for the wisdom of experience; now that he’s older, he is concerned about being relatable to younger people.
“The truth is, if you are waiting for an age or stage of life to automatically impart to you a sense of contentment and peace and satisfaction, there is nothing in life that will contribute that to you,” he said.
The word “secret” in Paul’s letter is important, Crist said, and it suggests that contentment is something we have to learn. The world teaches us to escape situations that cause discontent. It teaches us to either try to accumulate more material possessions or abandon all of them or just be indifferent to any of it.
“Paul says that’s not the answer,” Crist said. “It’s not based on where you are, it’s not based on what you have, it’s not based on not caring. In fact, Paul was a deeply caring individual. He was passionate about the gospel. He wasn’t indifferent. He wasn’t detached. He was engaged. And, based on that, he wants us to know that we don’t find contentment through being dispassionate or apathetic or disassociated or not having hopes and dreams and longings.”
Let freedom ring
It is the classic argument for trusting in God, and Crist drew applause from the crowd as he laid out these thoughts, all packed into one sentence in staccato fashion:
“I think the way of the kingdom and I think the way of contentment is living a life that is free, living a life that is light, living a life that is joyful on the journey, and at the same time not settling for where we are, knowing that the best is yet to come, knowing that God has greater things ahead, knowing that the journey of faith is from faith and from glory to glory, and knowing that by the grace of God we will see better days.”
So, Crist asked, what is contentment? It is a posture, not denying our desires but expressing our freedom from being controlled by those desires.
“It is an inner sense of peace that comes from trusting that God is in control of all that happens to us and that His plan will prevail if we pursue His will,” Crist said.
What Paul wants us to know, Crist concluded, is that we can be completely content through Christ. Some people create discontent in their lives because they’re afraid that God will leave them in the situation they want to escape.
Some people have told Crist that it’s risky to trust God. His response: “Not trusting God is the riskier option.”
● For a full replay of Chapel, including the music by the Chapel band, click here.
● Next Monday’s Chapel speaker is Beth Guckenberger of Back to Back Ministries.
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].