Only three tables had customers at lunchtime on Monday, but the expectations from each table could not be different. The retired couple at the first table came in every day at lunch and ordered the same thing. He had grilled chicken, cornbread, with fried okra and she had beef-tips and rice with a roll and green beans. They both ordered water. They were satisfied with this good basic meal. The two men near the window were not from around there. They were salesmen, businessmen, lawyers, or something along those lines. They seemed accustomed to a higher class of restaurant as they turned up their nose at the menu. One of them even said in a fake southern accent, “Do y’all eat any real food down here? What are grits, anyway?” They both laughed at their cleverness. Once they did order, nothing was to their liking. A man sitting alone occupied the third table. He ordered a ribeye sandwich, onion rings, peach cobbler, and a sweet tea. The tea was a little too sweet for him and he asked for half a glass of unsweet tea to mix with it. He read a book he brought with him as he cleaned his plate. When he finished eating, he thanked the waitress for her attention, complimented the food and the cook, and promised to be back to try something else.
In this small town cafe there were three types of people: 1) the Satisfied retired couple, 2) the Dissatisfied out-of-towners, and 3) the Unsatisfied single diner. In any situation or group, we can find these same three types, even in churches.
What does this look like in church? Is satisfaction, dissatisfaction, or unsatisfaction a good thing?
Satisfied Christians think of themselves or the church where they worship as already arriving at perfection or at least being good enough. They feel good about the amount of Bible knowledge they have. The satisfied believe that they know the answers to the most important questions. After all, they are not like other religious or non-religious people who do not know what God really wants, they attend the correct religious group who long ago returned to what the Bible says. Satisfied Christians believe their scholars of the past brought us to exactly where we need to be. The satisfied study the past to confirm their satisfaction not to grow and consequently never mature as Christians. Satisfied Christians only maintain the status quo.
Dissatisfied Christians complain — about everything! Long sermons, short sermons, loud songs, soft songs, old songs, new songs, PowerPoint songs, songbooks, and lighting. They do not like the preacher, the elders, the deacons, or the fact that nobody talks to them. They are dissatisfied that no one is doing enough for their children or their needs. Dissatisfied Christians remain focused on themselves to the neglect of study, maturation, and spiritual focus. Consequently, they miss out on the blessings of being part of a community. They will move on to another congregation or religious group because, as sufferers of “Rolling Stone Syndrome” they “can’t get no satisfaction.”
Then there are Unsatisfied Christians. I believe this is who we need to be. We do not need to think that we are already there. We are not fully Christlike since as long as we are alive, we still struggle in the flesh. We cannot be satisfied that we are better than some or even most. We cannot rest on the accomplishments and scholarship of those who went before us, what if they missed something? When we remain unsatisfied, we will do our best, “to present (ourselves) to God as one approved . . .” (2Tim 2:15). Unsatisfied Christians know that much of the world still needs Christ. Unsatisfied Christians see the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs around them and will try to alleviate those needs to the best of their ability working as bondservants to the King of kings. Unsatisfied Christians are tireless workers in the Kingdom of Christ. The unsatisfied take initiative to fill the needs they see; they are always seeking to make themselves and their Christian family better. And as they do, they continue to make certain they remain faithful to God in all that they do.
I know that Paul speaks of being satisfied – “content” in Philippians 4, but he speaks of contentment in physical life as he strives to live spiritually. Just a chapter earlier Paul says he is unsatisfied, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Php 3:12-14)”
Let’s be Unsatisfied and get busy.