Character is Complicated

If we human beings are honest, we will admit that often our dissatisfaction in life is a matter of who we are. As C.S. Lewis rightly notes, the problem with people is not that they desire, but that they desire the wrong things. The Apostle Paul may have found that he was content in every situation (Philippians 4:10-13), but few other individuals can honestly say the same. Christians know all too well that while St. Augustine’s dictum that our hearts are restless until they find rest in God is true, even in the midst of finding rest in relationship with the divine, there is still plenty of discontent as believers journey toward perfection. We are discontented because we lack, and often we are not sure what we lack nor where to find what we truly need. Indeed, too often what we think we need is not what we truly need. Character is not something Christians receive instantaneously at conversion; it takes a lifetime of forming and shaping as God works to restore his image in us. We may be in the image of God, but that image is cracked. Jesus wants his followers to become what they are, but the becoming is not easy.

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An excerpt from my latest book, The Character of Our Discontent: Old Testament Portraits for Contemporary Times, scheduled to be published April 10, 2010.

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