15. Our Enemy Contentment
One of the big milk companies makes capital of the fact that their cows are all satisfied with their lot in life. Their clever ads have made the term "contented cows" familiar to everyone. But what is a virtue in a cow may be a vice in a man. And contentment, when it touches spiritual things, is surely a vice.
Paul professed that he had learned to be content with such earthly goods as fell to his lot. That is something else from being content with his spiritual attainments. With these he specifically declared that he was not satisfied: "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which arebehind, and reaching forth into those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Contentment with earthly goods is the mark of a saint; contentment with our spiritual state is a mark of inward blindness.
One of the greatest foes of the Christian is religious complacency. The man who believes he has arrived will not go any farther; from his standpoint it would be foolish to do so. The snare is to believe we have arrived when we have not. The present neat habit of quoting a text to prove we have arrived may be a dangerous one if in truth we have no actual inward experience of the text. Truth that is not experienced is no better than error, and may be fully as dangerous. The scribes who sat in Moses' seat were not the victims of error; they were the victims of their failure to experience the truth they taught.
Religious complacency is encountered almost everywhere among Christians these days, and its presence is a sign and a prophecy. For every Christian will become at last what his desires have made hint. We are all the sum total of our hungers. The great saints have all had thirsting hearts. Their cry has been, "My soul thirsts for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?" Their longing after God all but consumed them; it propelled them onward and upward to heights toward which less ardent Christians look with languid eye and entertain no hope of reaching.
Orthodox Christianity has fallen to its present low estate from lack of spiritual desire. Among the many who profess the Christian faith scarcely one in a thousand reveals any passionate thirst for God. The practice of many of our spiritual advisers is to use the Scriptures to discourage such little longings as may be discovered here and there among us. We fear extremes and shy away from too much ardor in religion as if it were possible to have too much love or too much faith or too much holiness.
Occasionally one's heart is cheered by the discovery of some insatiable saint who is willing to sacrifice everything for the sheer joy of experiencing God in increasing intimacy. To such we offer this word of exhortation: Pray on, fight on, sing on. Do not underrate anything God may have done for you until now. Thank God for everything up to this point, but do not stop here. Press on into the deep things of Cod. Insist upon tasting the profounder mysteries of redemption. Keep your feet on the ground, but let your heart soar as high as it will. Refuse to be average or to surrender to the chill of your spiritual environment. If you thus "follow after," heaven will surely be opened to you and you will, with Ezekiel, see visions of God.
Unless you do these things you will reach at last (and unknown to You) the bone yard of orthodoxy and be doomed to live out your days in a spiritual state which can be best described as "the dead level and quintessence of every mediocrity."
From such a state God save us all. Amen.
From The Root of the Righteous by A. W. Tozer. Lightly updated to the language of the 21st century by D. N. Pham. (c) 2012.
Reach for the Calling Creator
Root of the Righteous - A.W. Tozer
ON THE BOOK SHELF
May your calling be the best.