America has sold us a picture of the good life. And for years we have bought it. Hook, line and sinker. It involves fame. Success. Accolades. Climbing the corporate ladder. The power of the dollar and the bottom line. It’s about the powerful, the strong, the big story and the top dog. It involves suburbia. And individualism. Private lives. Privilege. The freedom of choices so overwhelming we need Xanax. The big house, the white picket fence, and good schools for the kids. And it involves stuff. Toys, gadgets and more stuff. Stuff that breaks so we have to buy more. Shiny toys that must be upgraded every year. Gadgets we can’t possibly live without and lots of plastic that overwhelms our landfills and infiltrates our eco systems. Not to mention that we eat food that no longer resembles food, filled with “crack” substances like sugar and corn syrup proven to be as powerful as cocaine. And turns out, it was all a plan hatched to turn us into consumers who would buy what we didn’t need, and who would eat more than our fill-- so that we would keep working, and buying, and consuming. And well, it has worked. We work, and we work, and we work. And we consume and we consume. But for what? What are we truly craving?
I think the gloss is wearing very thin on this picture of the good life. For we are tired of chasing after that which doesn’t satisfy. This Lent, we’ve been spending time in The Beatitudes, which offers a very different picture of the good life. This week’s text is...
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.
Filled? Satisfied? Is this even a thing? It seems foreign to the consumptive American appetite. Jesus offered bread to satisfy our hunger, water to satisfy our thirst, so that we would never hunger or thirst again. Whaaaat? What is this? And if this is true, surely our economy that is built on never ending consumption is doomed.
But I sense a hunger today. For righteousness. Said another way. There seems to be is a deep longing for justice, for shalom, and for peace. For things to be set right in the world. Another vision of the good life, Jesus’ vision. For the world to be renewed and for people to be made whole. For communities to be reconciled and for relationships to be restored. This is a picture of the good life. And one that more and more people are awakening to. The sham is over. The emptiness of consumption has been exposed and we are in the wake of a people and land raped by its insatiable appetites. It seems we are hungry for more.
But Jesus offers to satisfy our hunger with a very different vision of the good life. A life that is built around something other than what we have and what we can acquire or achieve. And the promise is that we will be filled. Satisfied. Whole. People today are hungry for a different vision for their lives, for their neighborhoods and for the church. And this is why we as The Practicing Church are so committed to learning, experimenting, and growing together as we seek to embody the words of Jesus in our neighborhoods.
Hungry for more?
by Jessica Ketola
They don’t want to attend a church that has no connection to its immediate place; that isn’t engaged in the life of the city that hosts it; that doesn’t support local businesses; that isn’t concerned with artistic expression and experimentation. There’s a desire for a more indigenous, rooted, authentic community of faith to spring up in the soil in which it’s planted.
Michael Frost talks about what the church can learn from weird city movements and what people are longing for today.
The Inhabit Conference is coming up next month and is one of the best ways to catch another vision for the good life and for what it means to be the church today. I have been deeply impacted by this learning community and I can’t recommend it highly enough!