The Christian Dream2
The Christian Dream
Here’s a little test for you. What comes to mind when you see these words?
- Wanting More
- The Principle of Progress
- The American Dream
- Material Appetites
Hopefully you’re thinking about something from the last couple of Sundays. We’ve been tackling the difficult subjects of greed and discontentment. These topics touch a raw nerve with many of us, myself included. As God has been speaking to me about coveting and wanting more, I’ve come across something very fascinating.
More Than Laws
If you have your Bibles nearby, turn to the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20. Notice how the first nine commandments are all externally visible. If you bow down to another god I can watch you, if you steal I can see you, if you murder someone I might witness it, etc. All nine are external. But the tenth command is different, here’s what it says,
You shall not covet you neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male, or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
Here’s the difference—coveting is invisible. I can’t see you coveting; I can’t see you being greedy. You could be coveting a new computer right now and I wouldn’t know it because coveting is an internal sin.
So here’s the question—why are nine commands external and one internal? One interesting suggestion that’s found in an ancient commentary says this—the tenth commandment is not just a command but it’s also a reward. When you follow the first nine you won’t want anyone else’s life. This commentary goes on to argue that you ought to read the commandments like a progression. When you live in harmony and obedience with God you won’t want to be in any other place.
That’s it! That’s the key! When we do life God’s way, when live in faithful obedience to Him, we come to this groundbreaking realization that we don’t need anyone else’s life or stuff since there is contentment in godliness. This realization frees us up to obey God, to be generous with our money, to train for godliness, exercise the spiritual disciples— not because we have to—but because we want to, because God is the “all-satisfying Object,” as C.S. Lewis says. I pray that all of us would be so satisfied with knowing and obeying Christ this week that we wouldn’t want anyone else’s life. This is the “Christian Dream”.
“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 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.” (Philippians 4:11b-13)