It used to be the case (many years ago) that all telephones made the same sound when someone was trying to contact you: ‘ring, ring… ring, ring’. Then came the advent of electronic phones that could make a trilling sound. And then came the advent of mobile phones with several different ringtones (including the annoying nokia one if you had one of their phones). Nowadays most mobile phones have the capability to play an extract from a song that you have on the phone or any number of interesting sounds. If you are travelling on public transport it is quite entertaining listening to the different ringtones that people have.

A while ago I had the opening bars to a song as my ringtone. It is a guitar riff that I rather like and I thought also was likely to get my attention if my phone went off in public, distinguishing it from other ringtones. It was ‘I can’t get no satisfaction’ by the Rolling Stones. I used to have it set to the loudest setting because I used to keep my phone in a pocket and it could get a but muffled and easy to ignore.

Ba baaah, ba ba baah ba baah ba ba ba. (he he he, you now may well have that ear worm in your head for the rest of the day)

I had left my phone in my jacket pocket, and my jacket was hidden behind a screen in church. The building was empty as everyone else was either in the hall drinking tea and coffee or had gone home. But a couple from the church were in the building sorting out flowers. When my phone rang.

Ba baaah, ba ba baah ba baah ba ba ba
Ba baaah, ba ba baah ba baah ba ba ba
“I can’t get no… satisfaction”

My phone sang its lungs out, rather surprising the couple at first, and then when they realised what the song was they wondered whose ringtone it would be. I came back into the church to get my jacket while they were still there and they told me what had happened and I sheepishly had to own up to that song being my ringtone.

This morning I have been reading Ephesians 4:17-32 and the accompanying notes made reference to how Paul had highlighted behaviour in the first century AD that is still true today – people pursue personal satisfaction while becoming desensitised to questions of ‘right or wrong’. It’s the basis of our economic system – acquire more to be satisfied. But it’s a lie because stuff does not satisfy permanently. And the lie is hidden behind a deception because they always offer more and new and different to keep us dissatisfied. The lie of personal satisfaction is what motivates some to hide their wealth offshore in tax havens to avoid paying tax in order that they might have a bit more. It’s not just for the wealthy, though, it pervades all aspects of society – it’s what fuels the pornography industry, it’s what perpetuates the fashion industry, it’s what enables the iniquitous short term loan industry to get away with charging such high interest rates… it’s all driven by the little lie that if we could only have a bit more then we would achieve personal satisfaction. And sadly it’s a lie that churches can buy into too – trying to be satisfied by singing favourite songs or hymns, listening to our favourite preacher, building the best buildings…

However the only way to be satisfied is to stop trying to be satisfied. The lie makes pursuit of satisfaction a goal in itself because the end is unachievable. Satisfaction comes when we accept that we aren’t made to fill our lives with pleasure, we are made to be content. And that contentment comes from being in a right relationship with our Creator – for best results follow the maker’s instructions. If we put our satisfaction-seeking efforts into seeking God’s will and doing that we will find that we become content with less because we have got what matters most. And we do that by submitting ourselves to God, following Jesus and allowing God’s Spirit to make a difference in our lives – we can’t do it on our own. You can’t get no satisfaction, but you can get contentment.

Be blessed, be a blessing

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