Productive Discontent

Perhaps you’ve had the experience of being asked to coach a team in a program that has not had a winning record in a long time. You know how hard it can be to turn a team like that around. Why? Often it’s not because there isn’t enough talent or potential to win. Instead, the problem is that the athletes become so used to losing that it doesn’t bother them anymore. They lack the gut-level discontent with losing that’s needed to compel them to embrace the uncomfortable changes needed so that they can win.

Jesus speaks to a similar issue in all of us. We’re continuing to look at Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) about life in God’s kingdom: what it’s like to live under his reign as our King. Jesus begins by pointing to qualities of those who are blessed by God – that is, those who experience the grace and favor that come with living under his reign. Here’s what Jesus says in Matthew 5:4 – “God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

In this context, mourning does not refer to grief over the loss of a loved one. Jesus has a different kind of mourning in mind, a grieving that is the product of God’s loving reign taking hold in us. The more we see and experience the goodness and glory of God’s righteous rule, the more we’re confronted with how destructive our sin against God is. Those who experience the gracious reign of King Jesus not only hunger for more of this – they’re also increasingly disturbed by how sin undermines and damages Jesus’ good intent for our lives and our world.

The problem, though, is that we can be like athletes in a perennially unsuccessful program who get so used to losing that it doesn’t bother them anymore. When we get used to sin, whether in our own life or in the world around us, we become numb to its destructive impact. This prevents us from truly coaching in transformational ways and living for Christ’s honor.

What needs to happen instead? According to Jesus, living under his reign compels us to mourn over ongoing sin. This stirs in us a gut-level discontent with sin and a deep desire instead for the character and values of our King. This discontent moves us to embrace the changes Jesus wants to bring about in us even as these changes are uncomfortable and stretching. We also mourn over the destructive impact of sin on those we coach, motivating us to use the influence God has given us to point them to the King and his Kingdom of love, mercy, and healing.

Jesus promises that as we mourn over the brokenness caused by sin, we will be comforted. We will experience his forgiveness and grace. Even as we’re bothered by sin’s destructiveness, we’re also able to rest in the work Jesus is doing in our sin-marred lives and world. This fills us with hope in him and what he’s doing in and through us.

Coach, just as you would never want your athletes to be unbothered by losing, don’t allow yourself to be undisturbed by anything less than God’s good design for your life and your coaching. Mourn sin and its destructiveness. Hunger for more of King Jesus’ reign in you. Let the character and values of Christ saturate your coaching, praying that those you influence would also grieve over their sin and turn to Jesus.

For reflection: Consider your attitude toward sin, whether in your own life or in the lives of those around you. Does sin grieve you? If not, ask God to change your heart by his grace. Receive the forgiveness he gives and pray for greater hunger for Christ and his Kingdom.