Now godliness combined with contentment brings great profit. For we have brought nothing into this world and so we cannot take a single thing out either. (1 Timothy 6:6, 7)
I walked past a line of patients waiting outside our makeshift dental clinic in Zimbabwe. Inside, the dentist aimed a flashlight and a needle into an open mouth. A kitchen chair and some extraction tools completed the operating theater.
In rural Africa there’s no money for prevention or fillings. When a tooth hurts, it’s extracted. After the last patient, the dentist showed me a tub of seventy-nine teeth pulled that day.
Those patients had waited for the rare opportunity when a dentist would help them without full payment. That meant there were many Africans normally living with elevated tooth pain, and yet they were always cheerful when I met them on the bush paths.
This is a primary difference between African Christians and me. They are diligent in spiritual arenas and passive with earthly circumstances. I’m nonchalant about spiritual matters and appalled with physical brokenness. Given the chance to exchange their spiritual wealth for physical prosperity, I believe most native disciples would refuse. They know the importance of what they have and don't have.
I want to go African. I want their perspective. If the poor natives can take their broken circumstances together with God’s promises and thrive, then so can I. Push my heartaches into a pile, then let me clap and boogie around them, African style. Let’s celebrate together because God redeems.
Materialism robs me of the African’s simple contentment. Less is more. I need less entertainment and more Spirit filling, fewer possessions and deeper relationships. But the less must come before the more, and my old nature doesn’t want to accept that order. But maybe I can watch the African and force my flesh to learn.
Prayer: Jesus, teach my heart true contentment.