A person living in an American city sees up to 5,000 ads a day. Even kids face billions of dollars in advertising. The marketplace repeatedly proclaims to us that we need something more, something different, something better. It tries to convince us of our dissatisfaction with life.
As John Ortberg wrote, "All day long we are bombarded with messages that seek to persuade us of two things: that we are (or ought to be) discontented and that contentment is only one step away: 'Use me, buy me, eat me, wear me, try me, drive me, put me in your hair.'"
Things have gotten worse with the advent of social media. It's not just companies bringing out our own sense of discontentment, it's also the people we know, with their status updates and shared photos. Social media skews positive: We see birthday wishes, vacation photos, and the best of everything. As one snarky T-shirt asserts, "May your life someday be as awesome as you pretend it is on Facebook."
Okay, but that's just the "world," right? Christians are content in Christ alone. Just a few weeks ago, Pope Francis tweeted, "A Christian is never bored or sad. Rather, the one who loves Christ is full of joy and radiates joy." Never? If only. We can be Debbie Downers, even when it comes to our faith.
This is not to suggest discontentment is inherently bad. All people feel the rumblings of "Is this all there is?" in life, which often pushes us to look outside ourselves for truth. At its best, discontentment often reminds us that we were made for a different place, producing in us a hunger to ask deeper questions and pray more fervent prayers.
But hasn't discontentment also introduced the possibility ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more