The word “satisfy” gets mixed reviews in the Bible.
The Psalms speak of satisfaction as a way that God connects to his people. In Psalm 90:14, the writer entreats “Satisfy us in the morning with your loving kindness that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” Psalms 145:16 expands this thought to include other creatures: “You open your hand, and satisfy the desire of every living thing.”
Other passages are not so sanguine. Paul sees the desire to satisfy others as an obstacle. “For do I now seek to satisfy men or God?” he asks in Galatians. As a tool of political expediency, we stray into the realm of the demonic. Mark tells us that “Pilate, wishing to satisfy the mob, released Barabbas for them, and after scourging Jesus handed Him over for crucifixion.”
In my experience, satisfaction in a church is rarely achieved by appealing to the mob, primarily because there are multiple mobs! What satisfies one mob alienates another! Satisfaction is achieved by fulfilling a mission that does not ignore human desires but transcends them.
I learned this as the founder of a project in Honduras caring for abandoned HIV children. Thousands of people have now gone to work at that project. For most, the experience involved immunizations, anti-malaria tablets, physical labor in dehydrating hot weather with mosquitos, scorpions, poisonous snakes, and cold or no showers at the end of the day. And folks had to pay over a $1,000 to boot! There wasn’t much “pandering to the mob”, but over 95% would say they were satisfied with the experience and the majority would say it was life-altering.
There is a satisfaction that is coveted as a primary goal in life to be achieved through a direct, frontal assault on the rest of the universe. It is its own reward.
There is another kind of satisfaction that is a by-product of other activities, like happiness is a by-product and can never be achieved by “trying to be happy.” Churches that land in the transformation quadrant are generally filled with members who have clarity about a mission that transcends them and draws them into an alternative reality where the Gospel is plausible and compelling.
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