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Depending on which study you believe, we are all sponges which soak in somewhere between 250 and 3000 adverts every single day. In apps, social media, bus stops, TV and more. Each and every one of them is cleverly designed (apart from that annoying opera singer guy who is just annoying) to make you want the product. Obviously, otherwise it would be a useless advert!

How does it work? Well, there is a science behind it which was first developed for the mass-market by a guy called Edward Bernays. He realised that each of us have a powerful subliminal desire to be popular / successful / attractive / rich / George Clooney and so pointed out that what advertisers should do is associate their products with those attributes. You know this, coz you have never seen an advert for a ladies perfume which says “Smells like vanilla water with roses and a hint of marzipan”. Nope. What the advert tells you is that if you spray that scent, you will be transported to a black and white beach where you will look fantastic while tanning and waiting for a French guy in a dinner jacket to finish surfing his way onto the island to sweep you off your feet, so irresistible do you smell!

And of course, we all fall for it. We upgrade sour phones, buy another bottle of smelly stuff, trade in our car, extend our houses, get this seasons colours…because we are made to feel somehow incomplete without them.

As part of our journey while asking the questions “How is God different?” and “How are Jesus’ followers different as a result of God’s difference?” we are spending some time focussing on Contentment. 

While addressing a large crowd made up of Ancient Greek and Roman listeners, a guy named Paul nailed the way in which God is different. Remember, the crowd he is speaking to each have a variety of different gods, one for the harvest, one for babies, another for war etc. And each of his listeners knows great stories of battles their gods have fought between each other and ways in which they have acted, usually sparked by jealousy and insecurity. Into that mix, Paul says “The God who made the word and everything in it is the Lord of Heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything” (Read the full story here)

Did you catch it? “As if he needed anything”. As if!

How is God different? Well, He is complete. He does not look at any other and wish he was better, feel insecure, try to hide a weakness or sulk about his lack of ability. Nope. God is complete, Finished. No upgrade available or needed. He is complete, and as such does not feel the need to upgrade his phone package simply to keep up with the latest trend. The clever adverts don’t work because he has no sense of being incomplete.

Later, in a letter to another group of new christians, the same guy, Paul writes this “May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be MADE COMPLETE with all the fulness of life and power that comes from God” (Read it here)

So there is the first secret to contentment. Basing our joy in our experience of Jesus rather than our shopping cart. Paul writes it like it is easy. It probably is except I keep messing it up, so as we continue to chase after contentment we will try and get better at it and discover more top tips. For now, why not just ask God to give you a greater experience of Him in order that you might be made, and might feel, complete.