Wednesday, August 19, 2009

the satisfaction quotient

“Open your mouth wide and I will fill it…” Psalm 81:10

Baby birds from my backyard...

We launched a new series called My Network in which we’re looking at our natural relational networks and how we become “bringers and includers” to the life of Jesus lived out in us. In the setup I mentioned that before we look at any tools, techniques, methodologies or ideas, we have to begin at square one: what’s the satisfaction quotient in your relationship with Jesus? The reason the disciples were so effective was because they couldn’t help but talk about what they had discovered and experienced. Thus, the old maxim: the best salesperson is a satisfied customer.

This is a dangerous area to walk through and could easily go south. I was waiting for: “I thought this wasn’t about me, but all about others? I mean, isn’t that what you talk about all the time, Mr. Smartypants Preacher Guy? So what’s this ‘I-need-to-be-a-satisfied-customer’ stuff?”

Okay, it’s a little tricky. Are we wandering into “bless-me-Christianity” world? Aren’t American Christians already obesely consumeristic?

Truth is, scripture is very clear that in the mind-blowing covenant God has made with justified, reconciled and transformed followers of Jesus, there should be an experiential transaction, a revelatory sense of God’s overwhelming goodness, fullness and presence. In other words, Pascal’s “God shaped vacuum” has to be experienced in a felt, known way or else we can’t really know God, only things about Him. I want to know my wife—if you know what I mean—and not just know things about her. And so scriptures like “Taste and see that the Lord is good”, or “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free” or “No one will have to teach his neighbor or brother, ‘know the Lord’, for they will all know me…” have a definite experiential tone.

In other words, there is some internal sensing that something has been deeply fulfilled in us, a “knowing” that nothing else could have satisfied what was missing. When God told Israel to “open your mouth wide and I will fill it”, He was telling a people in covenant with Him that they were missing something vital in their relationship with Him: his ability to fulfill the deepest longings of our souls. He was frustrated with a nation that ran off to other lovers, other gods, trying to satisfy some craving that could only be met in Him.

I’ve always thought it odd when people would say to me, “I think God is whatever you want to make Him.” I personally don't have a problem with that. I think everyone has the right (whatever that means) to believe whatever they want. The only one who might find that odd is God. When my kids were little, if I came home from work and found them hugging the TV and saying "Daddy, daddy", I would be more than a little concerned. And probably my heart would be broken. Don't you think God's heart breaks when He sees His children wanting intimacy and fulfillment with everything but Him...and He's the only one that can truly give them what they really need?

My children act like my children and treat me like their dad because I am their dad. It is the most natural thing for them. The creation responds (or should respond) to the Creator in gratitude; it is the natural order of the universe. God, with a touch of sarcastic humor, told Isaiah “Even a cow knows its owner, even a donkey knows where its barn is. But Israel, my son, avoids me…” (Is. 1:3). When I humble myself before God in worship, I am affirming once more that He made me and I belong to Him. In my Father’s house I am safe and warm.

And a satisfied person.

That should make me incredibly open about what I’ve discovered and experienced in Jesus. To do anything less would be antithetical to God’s personality, the personality I’ve experienced.


  1. A co-worker and I were talking today about finding it difficult to talk to others about Jesus. But that topic wouldn't have come up at all if we hadn't been discussing God and church to begin with. And we got to the topic by a simple question of what type of music do you like to listen to?

    I'm the new kid, so people are asking me lots of questions about me. I have found it easier to initiate conversation about God in just answering questions about me in general.

    In the past, I would feel a bit uncomfortable discussing what most people would label "religion". I prefer to discuss my faith and find it's much easier when talked about in the context of a, personal satsified customer.

  2. Perhaps I am missing something here. I am overwhelming myself trying to please God and make Him happy with me by following His Word and His will.

    However, I feel He through the Holy Spirit has given me many blessings and answers to my questions in His own way. Does that make me a satisfied person?

    Gratefull and humbled would be a better answer.

  3. "Grateful and humbled"...that's pretty good. And satisfying. David wrote: "You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing." Psalm 145:16 (NIV)