“Fools are destroyed by their own complacency.” Proverbs 1:32
Do you know a Christian who’s talking the talk, but not walking the walk? They’re casual, but not committed. They’re apathetic, not passionate. It’s called complacency. Jesus calls it lukewarm, and it makes Him want to puke (Revelation 3:16).
Increasing complacency among Christians threatens all of us. The cost is huge. We risk losing our faith in God, destroying our best relationships, and wasting our lives in meaningless work.
Complacency assumes strength where there is only weakness, chooses ignorance over knowledge, claims safety where there is danger.
Complacency accepts apathy in place of love, laziness over action, conformity instead of transformation.
Growth ends. Withering begins. Death lurks.
The longer we wait to do something about it, the greater the cost.
I know. I’ve been there. My once strong faith was riddled with compromise. I allowed important relationships to grow cold. Work became meaningless.
Naked Christians in Laodicea
One of the hot trends in reality TV has been to strip people naked and put them in awkward situations. Have you noticed?
- Naked dates.
- Naked castaways.
- Naked Fridays.
In Revelation 3:17, Jesus reveals a naked church in Laodicea.
The problem with this naked church is its members don’t know they’re naked. Instead, they’re confident in their wealth and claim they have everything they need.
Some theologians say the name Laodicea means “a people judged.” If that’s a fact, these church members are showing up on their judgement day without evidence to back up their claim.
This is the perspective that feeds complacency among Christians–that we have everything we need.
We’re like Hans Christian Andersen’s proud Emperor with new clothes, or the monarch’s pretentious subjects, applauding the beauty of clothes that only exist in our imagination.
“The greatest of faults is to be conscious of none.” Thomas Carlyle
Pride Comes Before a Fall
If you look in the mirror and repeat affirmations, you’ll eventually believe them.
You might have seen Stuart Smalley. He was a character created by Minnesota Senator Al Franken, when he worked as a comedian. Smalley was a satire on self-help. His popular catchphrase became, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.”
Repeating affirmations is a good thing, if they affirm the truth. But misguided use of popular psychology and self-help tactics has led many of us to be overconfident in our own attributes.
Jesus taught that He derived His goodness from God:
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good.” Mark 10:18
We’re in no better position than Jesus. We say all kinds of good things about ourselves, but if we’re not clothed in Christ’s righteousness, Jesus calls us “wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked (Revelation 3:17).
How to Overcome and Prevent Complacency
Jesus describes Christians as branches on a grapevine. Jesus is the vine, we are the branches (John 15:1-8). In God’s vineyard, branches connected to the vine thrive and produce much fruit. Branches that are severed from the vine wither and die.
Connecting with Jesus Christ is the first and most important step to thrive in your faith, relationships and work.
Connecting with Jesus and cultivating that connection is the only antidote to Christians becoming complacent.
Jesus advises us to “buy” what we need from Him (Revelation 3:18). He wants to exchange goods with us. The problem is our goods don’t hold any value. The good news is that He’s already paid the price for the goods He wants to give us. Our part is to ask for what we need and receive it (Isaiah 55:1-2; John 15:7).
1. Gold purified by fire – When God tests our faith, the Bible compares it to purifying gold (Job 23:10). When we endure trials, we develop strength of character. Character strength gives us greater confidence in God’s love, His guidance and His plan for our future (Romans 5:3-5).
2. White garments – Jesus offers His righteous life as a substitute for our flawed life. Receive it, you’re guaranteed new thoughts and attitudes, and everlasting life. (Matthew 5:20; Philippians 3:9; Ephesians 4:20-24).
3. Ointment for our eyes – God cures our spiritual blindness. The Holy Spirit shines a light on God’s Word, revealing to us with greater clarity our need for a connection to Jesus, and His desire for a connection to us (Psalm 19:8; John 8:12).
What are you doing to overcome or prevent complacency in your faith, relationships or work? Please leave a comment and share something that’s working for you.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.