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Complacency and the Christian

By Hope Martin | July 22, 2020

The path of a Christian is not an easy one. It is narrow, full of ups and downs, twists and turns, double-backs and sometimes agonizingly slow progress. As Christians, we face many challenges and fight many enemies along the way, enemies like: comparison, jealousy, pride, anger, fear, complacency—the list goes on. I want to take a look at the last one today. 

Complacency is defined as: “a feeling of being satisfied with how things are and not wanting to try to make them better.” 

Complacent is defined as: “marked by self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies.”

This week, I found myself thinking, “I can’t wait for things to go back to normal. I’m tired of the tension and unrest and hurt. I just want things to go back to the way they were pre-quarantine, pre-global pandemic, pre-protests. Back to the way things were before our world (if I’m honest, before my world) was turned upside down.” As I thought more on that, I was deeply convicted. Rather than wanting God to bring about justice and healing, I wanted to stop feeling uncomfortable. I had decided that I had looked long enough on the evil and dark things that are deeply rooted in this world, that I was weary from it and weary of being weary. But the reality of sin and the call for justice is not a documentary we get to turn off when it becomes too sad or too much. And here I was, wanting to be complacent. I was satisfied with how things were before quarantine because my life was, for the most part, comfortable and unaffected.

We must constantly be on our guard against complacency. Like a ship without a rudder, or a car without a steering wheel, we will naturally drift towards becoming complacent. Complacency is easy because it requires very little of us—keep doing nothing. It whispers in our ears, “You probably couldn’t change much anyways. You’re not strong enough, educated enough, influential enough, fill in the blank enough to make a difference, so why even try? It’s easier, safer to just do nothing.”

We need to be proactive in searching  for and rooting out complacency in our hearts and minds. One of the best ways to combat complacency is prayer. Prayer is a powerful tool that God has given to His beloved children. Prayer is not a reactionary tool that we pull out when we are in trouble or when we are made aware of sin and injustices. Prayer is foundational. Prayer is the lifeline of the Christian, connecting us to the lifeblood of our Lord and Sustainer. 

Paul outlines the marks of a true Christian in Romans 12:9-21. Here are verses 9-13:

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” All of these encourage and challenge us in our daily Christian walk. 

Verse 10 calls us to love and show honor to one another. This outlines a second way to combat complacency—the fellowship and community of the saints. Being in community enables us to hold each other accountable, encourage each other in serving the Lord through prayer and conversation, and call out complacency. 

Verse 11 challenges us to not be complacent and serve the Lord with fervor. Verse 12 challenges us to be constant in prayer, as well as to persevere in the face of trials. It also encourages us to rejoice in hope. This is how we can face the darkness in the world—we walk in the Light. We have hope that cannot be diminished, destroyed, or extinguished. 

Promoting justice and loving our neighbors is a lifelong pursuit and battle for the Christian, which means it is a lifelong pursuit and battle for each of us. Serving the Lord and being in constant prayer—this is how we are able to make the pursuit of justice a lifelong pursuit. This is how we guard against burnout and complacency. 

I will end with this encouraging word from Galatians 6:9:

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” 

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