Recently I read a book called Upon This Rock, by Frank G Slaughter. It’s a novel about the life of Simon Peter, who has long been one of my favorite apostles, and while I don’t agree with everything in the book, it was certainly an interesting read. One thing that struck me was the use of a peculiar phrase. Three times Slaughter said that Peter had been “infected with the divine discontent which Jesus instilled into the hearts of all those who served him.” Divine discontent. What is that even supposed to mean?
It’s a strange phrase at first blush, this “divine discontent,” but in the context of the story line it makes perfect sense. No, he’s not talking about being dissatisfied with what you have or anything related to one’s earthly lot in life. This is a spiritual discontent, one that led Peter (in this novel) to expand his horizons for spreading the Gospel. The first time this phrase is used is after Pentecost, when the church was growing and thriving in Jerusalem, and Jews from all over the world had heard the message and were carrying it back to their own lands. But despite the rapid expansion of the Church, Peter knew there needed to be an even bigger platform from which to tell the news of Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection. Thus, he was infected with this “divine discontent.”
Later the phrase occurred after Peter had been in Joppa some time, and felt restless, knowing again that feeling of “divine discontent,” which this time preceded his dream about the unclean animals and his subsequent trip to Caesarea to visit Cornelius and preach to Gentiles there. It’s more of a feeling that he couldn’t be content to stay where he was, in a familiar context. He needed to move on and continue spreading the Gospel elsewhere. There were plenty of other people in the world who had yet to hear about Jesus, both Jews and Gentiles. He (and the other Christians) needed to get out there and spread that word everywhere.
So what about you? Do you have “divine discontent”? Are you content with the ways you are sharing the Good News of Jesus? Have you become complacent about telling others about the Savior? Make no mistake about it—Satan works hard to infect Christians instead with a sense of complacency. Hey, I’m doing what I can. I don’t want to force Jesus down anyone’s throat. I’ll just live a good life and let others see my actions, since actions speak louder than words, right? And if other people see something in my life that makes them curious, they can ask me and I’ll tell them I’m a Christian. I’m doing my part. And that’s a really common sentiment today. We’ve been duped into thinking that we shouldn’t “offend” people by sharing our faith. We’ve given in to the lie that we’re unloving if we dare to claim that Jesus is the only way to heaven, so we keep our mouths shut.
But let’s look for a moment at those arguments I just mentioned. First, we’ve been told that we shouldn’t “offend” people by talking about our faith. Well, I have news for you—the Law does offend. That’s the purpose of the Law. We’re supposed to see in the Law the complete hopelessness of our situation; the fact that we can never hope to free ourselves from our sinful condition. That offends people. We don’t like to admit that we’re helpless in anything. But that’s where the beautiful news of the Gospel assures us that Jesus has taken our punishment upon Himself. He offers the free gift of eternal life to all who believe in Him. Will everyone jump for joy when you tell them this message? No. Some people will reject it. That’s not on you. Spread the Word regardless, like the sower whose seed falls on fertile and hostile soil alike. Yes, the message of the cross is “a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called… Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23-24).
Fine, but isn’t it “unloving” to claim that Jesus is the only way to heaven? Are we intolerant? Not at all. Quite the opposite, in fact. If you saw a friend destroying his life by abusing drugs or alcohol, is it loving to ignore that and let him continue on the path of destruction? Of course not. Although it may be hard, the loving thing to do is to correct him and get him the help he needs. Friends, if you see your fellow man on the path of eternal destruction, following a false “god” blindly, the most loving thing you can do is to point him instead to the One who alone gives eternal life. It is unloving to ignore his need and let him continue in his false beliefs that can only lead to eternal separation from the true God.
So Christian, go. Don’t fight the feeling of “divine discontent.” That’s the Holy Spirit working on you, urging you to get out there and spread the Word of life in a world that desperately needs it. I admit that I don’t always have that discontent. Oh, I’ll get spurts of it here and there when I really stop to consider all the people who need to hear about Jesus, but by and large, I’ve become quite good at being complacent about sharing my faith. But I’ve found a curious thing to be true. The more you share the Gospel message, the more your eyes are opened to the true need to share it, and the more discontent you are. Look for opportunities to spread the Good News. It’s your job to sow the seed wherever you can, but only God can make it grow. Get out there, Christian. It’s planting time.