Session Five: Holy Discontent
Session Five: Holy Discontent
In the world we see so much persecution, hardship, poverty, sickness and injustice. Even something as universal as climate change adversely affects the poorest. Should we be content with seeing such things?


Take turns dividing up the Monopoly money between the group.

Think about that for a moment.


At the start of 2015, Oxfam had warned that 1% of the world’s population would own more wealth than the other 99% by next year. Mark Goldring, Oxfam GB’s chief executive, said,

‘This is the latest evidence that extreme inequality is out of control. Are we really happy to live in a world where the top 1% own half the wealth and the poorest half own just 1%?’
The Guardian, 13 October 2015

This session will explore how we can experience Holy Discontent and look at differences that we can make to bring justice to the world.

What are the things that happen to others that have always made you boil up with fury? The things that cause us ‘holy discontent’ may differ from person to person. Take time to share what makes you ‘holy discontented’.


We often think of the Christian faith as being meek and mild-mannered, more concerned with forgiveness and keeping everyone on an even keel than rocking the boat. There are times however when the church should be at the forefront of concern and anger but it is always underpinned by compassion. This anger, or holy discontent is something that is enacted on behalf of others, it arises as the result of injustices inflicted upon people who so often have no voice. It is not self-serving nor self-pitying. At its heart is the outworking of the justice of God.

Read Isaiah 1:11-18

In the world we see so much persecution, hardship, poverty, sickness and injustice. Even something as universal as climate change adversely affects the poorest. Should we be content with seeing such things? According to the verse above the answer is a resounding ‘No!’ It would seem that over and above what takes place within our churches God is much more concerned with what is happening in the world. Perhaps when we get a true sense of understanding that salvation is for the world, not just for the privileged few, or God forbid, those who are like us, then we may begin to take justice seriously. For while there remains injustice the world is not reconciled. It is not reconciled to itself, man to man, and it is certainly not reconciled to God.

Read 2 Corinthians 5:18-20

There remains work to be done. William Booth, the founder of The Salvation Army understood this. In his last public appearance before being Promoted to Glory he was led to the podium in the Royal Albert Hall, barely able to see and he spoke these words:

‘While women weep as they do now, I’ll fight. While little children go hungry, as they do now, I’ll fight. While men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, I’ll fight. While there is a drunkard left, while there is a poor lost girl upon the streets, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I’ll fight – I’ll fight to the very end.’

These are words of a man who fought for ‘others’.

The Salvation Army is called to ‘Save Souls, Grow Saints and Serve Suffering Humanity’. Therefore, we cannot be content when we see injustice, inequality and unfairness. How can we be content as Disciples of Christ when we look and see our neighbour in want? How can we be content when we see men, women and children fleeing war-torn countries on boats that simply mean they will be ‘the lucky ones’ if they make it across the seas alive?

We should not become accustomed to images on our television screens of children starving, houses being bombed and attacks on those most vulnerable in society. We need to have ‘holy discontent’ and want to be a part of reconciling the broken society in which we live.

With grateful thanks to Major Alison Thompson


Never think that prayer is the small, last thing that we can do. If our health, skills, abilities and resources mean that is the only thing we can do, know that prayer is what underpins change. There are many things you may be able to do to stand against injustice. You may be able to sign a petition against Human Trafficking, you may stand against those who are racist
towards people seeking refuge in our country, write a letter to your local Councillor or MP about a concern that you have. But whatever you do to fight with ‘holy discontent’ make sure you pray and ask God’s help with
the task ahead. Learn to do right; seek justice.


Taken from The Serenity Prayer Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

God grant me the serenity to accept
the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

For the next session
Bring a pack of playing cards