When I was in the police in Scotland, we had to have an annual appraisal with our Inspector (police lieutenant) A friend of mine was told in his appraisal that he was a “malcontent.” I had to check what a “malcontent” was and this was the definition I found “someone who is dissatisfied with the existing state of affairs.”
For my inspector, Inspector McDougall, if I remember his name correctly, being a malcontent was something negative. What I have discovered as a pastor and as a disciple of Jesus, is that being a malcontent can be a positive thing, in fact, a crucial thing in the life of a church and our spiritual lives. The writer of Psalm 85 was being a malcontent when he wrote these famous words, “ Will you not revive us again,” Psalm 85:6 He looked at the spiritual condition or God’s people and his own heart and was “dissatisfied with the existing state of affairs.” He was dissatisfied with his relationship with God and the spiritual state of God’s people. He longed for change, for new spiritual growth, for a renewed and deepened relationship with God. He was a holy malcontent.
Over the next couple of months, we are having a spiritual growth emphasis as a church. We will be looking at spiritual growth, about what it means to be like Jesus and how we can grow to be like Jesus. The truth is that unless we become a community of holy malcontents, unless we are dissatisfied with the spiritual condition of our own lives and of our church then it will be just another church programme and series of sermons. However, if like the writer of Psalm 85, we become discontented with our spiritual lives and have a longing for God to work in new and powerful ways in our lives and “revive us again” this next few months could be packed with potential. JD Walt, the writer of one of the devotionals I read, commented one day that “The Holy Spirit is attracted to holy discontent like lightening to a lightening rod” I have spent a lot of time meditating on that thought. I long to be more discontented, more dissatisfied, less at ease with the status quo.
I am asking us as a church to pray that the Holy Spirit will make us a community of “holy malcontents” people who are dissatisfied with our spiritual condition as Christians and as a church. Will you pray that the Holy Spirit would shake us from our acceptance of the spiritual status quo and make us a community of people who are longing to see renewed spiritual growth individually and communally?
The question is where do we start in praying for this? As I was thinking about that I remembered a quote by German mystic Meister Eckhart which I think I shared a few weeks ago
“The soul must long for God in order to be set aflame by God’s love; but if the soul cannot yet feel the longing, then it must long for the longing. To long for the longing is also from God.”
Perhaps that is starting point for us? Maybe we need to pray that God would make us “long for the longing?” That God would make us dissatisfied, that the Spirit would stir in us that holy discontent that longs for a longing to have God revive and renews us set our hearts aflame.
Will you ask the Holy Spirit to make you a holy malcontent ?