Thursday, May 01, 2008

Peter and the Pre-Conceived Notion, Part I

In Acts 10, we find Peter in Joppa, fresh from raising Dorcas from the dead at the end of chapter 9. Peter is completely satisfied that Christianity is a Jewish experience, and why not? He’s having tremendous success in his ministry, the Lord is blessing, things are going really well.

Does being satisfied equal complacency? It might, if you hold your mouth just right. The Wiktionary defines satisfaction as “the fulfillment of a need or desire.” It defines complacent as “… uncritically satisfied,” which I find very interesting.

Uncritical can mean indulgent in that you don’t apply proper standards. In this case, it would mean that you got satisfied too easily. Let’s look at an example.

In Luke 12, Jesus is telling a story about a man with great success. This person has more harvest than he can handle, and he makes plans to tear down his old storehouses, and build bigger ones in their place. Then he figures he’ll retire and live a life of luxury, having acquired all that he could possibly need.

“Fool!” says God, “Tonight your soul will be required of you. Who’s going to get all this stuff you’re so proud of?”

This story is sandwiched between a person in the crowd asking Jesus to arbitrate an inheritance dispute and Jesus devaluing earthly goods. “Life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.”

One specific implication is that our assessment of any situation can be incomplete. The rich man felt that he had everything covered. On paper he certainly did. You total up the cost of your needs in one column, and total your assets in another. Do total assets cover the total cost of needs?

Jesus seems to be saying that we too often don’t account for our real needs very well.

Consider the spendthrift, a person that wastes money. If you pinned them down and asked them about their spending, they would probably tell you that the expenditures were for needs, and actually not frivolous at all. You, being the more practical type of person, see straightaway that they are fooling themselves.

Jesus is immensely more practical than we are, and He’s many times telling us that we’re fooling ourselves even when we think we’re being very objective.

Proverbs 1:32
says that “… the complacency of fools will destroy them.” Substituting our Wiktionary definition of complacency we get, “… the uncritical satisfaction of fools will destroy them.”

Being too satisfied will destroy us.

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