Contentment – a state of mental or emotional satisfaction maybe drawn from being comfortable in one’s situation, body and mind. Colloquially speaking, contentment could also be a state of acceptance of one’s situation – a milder and more tentative form of happiness.
Is this a proper definition for living as disciples? Is the path of discipleship all about reaching a level of contentment in our relationship with God, the Church and our community? Ron Rolheiser speaks in Sacred Fire: A Vision for A Deeper Human and Christian Maturity, of a longing that is at the very heart of our souls.
He writes that we are innately driven by a “yearning, a restlessness, a certain insatiable pressure to eat, to grow, to breed, to push beyond self.” He goes on to say that we “are meant to give our lives away in generosity and selflessness, but we are also meant to give our deaths away, not just at the moment of our deaths, but in a whole process of leaving this planet in such a way that our diminishment and death is our final, and perhaps greatest, gift to the world.”
This type of discipleship seems at odds with contented Christianity. Rolhesier’s thoughts are a radical concept for most Christians. Most of Christianity today is practiced in a state of contentment. Rolheiser says that walking in discipleship behind the master requires that “we too sweat blood and feel ‘a stone’s throw’ from everybody.”
This struggle, to give our deaths away, constitutes Radical Discipleship. It is not seeking contentment with our faith but seeking to die to self that is the path to true and everlasting happiness. When we do this, we find a new hope, a new joy, and a new purpose to our lives. We discover what it means to be Christ’s light and love to the world.