For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind
He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these
When I read the scriptures as a boy, I liked to picture myself in the shoes of Daniel, Gideon, and Joseph. These were stories of heroes, stories of people doing remarkable things in difficult situations, stories of valiant hearts that rose to the occasion, that knew their calling, and then lived it boldly. I loved these stories, and I always felt that they represented exactly the life that God wanted for me as well!
There is an important theme to each one of these stories, the very thing that made them so exciting to read. In all the scriptures, all of the heroes are examples of people that lived active lifestyles. These stories only exist because the men and women in them were not sitting around, living passive lives. We will never be like the fearless warrior David so long as we shy away from our struggles. We will never be like the great pioneer Moses so long as we turn down the ventures God offers us. We will never be like the great re-builder Zechariah so long as we refuse to make restitution for the things we have broken.
God always intended that we would feel the scripture heroes alive within us. He wanted for us to read their stories, be inspired by them, and become heroes just like them. But it will never happen so long as we remain sedentary on the sofa.
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee
I spoke yesterday about how we will never be able to live in peace until we live with a clean conscience. And we will never live with a clean conscience so long as we are not actively pursuing a deeper relationship with God.
The fact is that most of us get lost in complacency, when what we really need to find is contentment. Satan is very skilled at using his counterfeits to distract us from what truly matters. He gives us lust when what we’re really looking for love, he gives us idle distractions when what we’re really looking for a Godly calling. Complacency in place of contentment is just another of his deceits.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you
Contentment is the peace that Christ offers to us, which peace cannot be found anywhere in the world. Contentment is what we feel when we genuinely try our best and are proud with the person we are becoming. Contentment is always worthy of pursuit.
Complacency, on the other hand, is the so-called peace that the world offers. It is a cheap knock-off, one that tries to convince us that we are satisfied. Satisfied without self-improvement and satisfied without a connection to God. It appeals to our fleshy desire for idle laziness, and is most pernicious in how subtly it lulls us into inaction.
There is quiet contentment and there is muted complacency. One is the peaceful rest of the soul, the other is the disquieted tossing of a stupor.
Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;
And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
Their conscience also bearing witness, their thoughts accusing or else excusing one another
And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one
Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron
Yesterday I mentioned that all of us need to feel a motivation to follow God. We need something to convince us that life is better with Him as our companion than remaining on our own.
Well, it turns out that God has a way to accomplish this, and it is ingenious. He simply puts a little voice in us that urges us to do what is right, and “sears” us when we do wrong. We might try and say “I don’t need God, I can just live how I want.” We might try…but our conscience will not let us rest with that decision for long. We might settle into worldly comfort, but we will feel “convicted” in our soul.
The argument for complacency is that it is peaceful, but there can never be true peace when the conscience is distressed. If there is peace in the heart, though, then all is peace, no matter what tumult rages without. Thus no matter how we try to reason away our complacency, our conscience will always trouble us back to active discipleship.
My default state is to live as a passive disciple. This means to not do anything that might stretch or improve myself. It means to not live by faith, rather to only take steps that I feel I am totally capable of fulfilling without any outside help. It means knowing that God is important and all, but to not wanting to need Him. It means wanting to reach heaven by checking items off a list, with no messy life-altering transformations along the way.
Until recently I did nothing to challenge this default state of mine, but then, about three years ago, I took some steps to push against it and began to live with intentionality. Things have been much improved since then…but it would be dishonest if I said that I’ve never looked back since.
Even now I still find complacency to be a very comfortable robe, one that is all too easy to slip back into. I have to continually agitate myself to continually live as a more active follower of Christ. While some days are more successful than others, I have noticed some abiding changes in me that are invaluable. One of them is that I sharply recognize when I am falling back into my old cadence, and I remain restless until I get up and start moving again.
Living the life of an active disciple is hard by its very nature. Thus I am certain that I am not the only one entangled in this never-ending dance with my old ways, and not the only one that would benefit from a study on this topic. In my following research, I will be exploring how the scriptures advocate for a more active discipleship, and what wisdom they offer for how to maintain it.
In the meantime, I would love to hear from you how you have kept yourself on task. Does it always have to feel like a grind, or is there a point where it becomes a joy? How do you tell when you’ve slipped back to complacency? How do you rouse yourself once you realize that you have?