The Illusion of Complacency
A complacent faith isn't really much of a faith at all.
Morning. David Sorn. Lead pastor of Renovation Church.
You ever heard the story of the Canadian goose who was flying over Kansas?
For whatever reason it fell behind the flock, and as it was figuring out where to go it spotted a flock of Toulouse geese by a pond near a farm.
Now, Toulouse geese are not like Canadian Geese. In fact, they’re usually domesticated, and they can’t even fly.
Well, this Canadian Goose ended up just staying the day with these other geese…and one day turned into a week, into a month, and then an entire winter.
Because the Farmer’s wife would always take out a bucket of cracked corn to the pond and feed the geese everyday, so he never had to worry about food either.
Well, eventually, winter was over, unlike in MN, where it never ends.
Maybe Kansas isn’t so bad afterall
Andthe wild Canadian geese were flying north again.
This Canadian goose who had spent the winter on the Kansas farm looked up, and saw his friends honking (annoyingly I might add), and was stirred with a strange thrill to join his old comrades in flight.
So he started running & running, and started flapping his wings to fly…but he couldn’t get off the ground.
He had become so soft and heavy from his complacency during the winter that he literally couldn’t fly anymore.
So he dropped back to the pond, and said, “Oh well, life here is good enough.”
And even though he used to fly all over the country, and see all sorts of sights with his fellow Canadian geese, over time, he just became complacent.
And every Fall & every Spring, he ignored his fellow Candaian Geese as they flew by. For he had traded an incredible life of adventure for eating cracked corn by an ugly pond.
And I wonder this morning, if so many of us have lowered ourselves to an even more serious form of complacency.
NEITHER HOT NOR COLD
We are continuing in our “Illusions” series this morning with “The Illusion of Complacency”
You know, I think this is a tough series.
The very nature of “illusions” makes it tough.
Anytime you think something is one way for a long time, and then someone pulls the curtain back and says, “Gotcha! It’s actually NOT that way,” it’s tough.
Like, when I was a kid, I used to believe the craters on the moon, were actually just a reflection of the continents on earth
Before you laugh, look at it sometime. Seriously!
But when somebody told me that wasn’t true…Tough day.
I believed an illusion.
I want to look today at a tough passage in the Bible. This, like a lot of the messages in this series, is a tough one.
But, it’s Biblical and true. And if we can’t call out our illusionary beliefs, decisions, and life-choices, than we are going to be stuck in real pain.
And complacency is a huge issue in the church.
But what is complacency??
The definition of complacency is: A feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while being unaware of some potential danger.
It’s like enjoying yourself while sunbathing on a beach while an alligator creeps up behind you.
It’s like going on a rollercoaster, and being too lazy to buckle your seat belt…and then enjoying every part of the ride…right up until you get ejected out of your seat.
It’s a lot like contentment, and people often get the two confused.
But contentment is just being satisfied in all things. Despite the circumstances.
It’s a good thing. It’s a Biblical thing.
But complacency is being satisfied in being lazy, or lukewarm, or apathetic…all when it’s silly to do so.
And Jesus, who usually saves most of his strong words for religious folks, has some strong words for religious people who are complacent in their faith.
In the Book of Revelation, before all the crazy end-times starts stuff, Jesus addresses 7 of the early churches.
We’re going to be on page 993.
And to the church of Laodicea (which is in modern day Turkey), he has some choice words regarding their complacency. Check this out.
(Revelation 3:14-16) – NIV
“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
So Jesus tells the Christian believers in Laodicea that they are not on fire for him.
And interestingly enough, they’re not cold to him. They still believe in him…they haven’t lost all faith.
But they’re just sort of luke-warm.
They’ve just resigned themselves to a luke-warm faith that just sort of well…sits there.
As one of my favorite Christian rappers, Lecrae, says, “With cold water we drink, and hot water we cook, but luke-warm does nothing, it just sits and it looks.”
And Jesus is, like he so often did in the Gospels, uses everyday items to explain his point.
See, the city of Laodicea actually had a real-life lukewarm problem that everyone knew about
Laodicea lacked its own water supply, having no direct access to the cold water of the mountains of the hot water of the nearby springs of Hierapolis.
In contrast to their supposed self-sufficiency, they actually had to bring in water through an aqueduct, but closest the city, the pipe was above ground…
So, as you might guess…all of their drinking water was then a gross lukewarm temperature
So they didn’t have cold refreshing water, nor did they have hot water, which they could cook with or bathe with.
They just had pointless lukewarm water in Laodicea.
And for a lot of us, scarily, maybe even the majority of us, that’s what our faith is kind of like. Just…well…lukewarm.
Oh, we still believe in Jesus. Believe in the major tenets of the faith. But we just sort of sit.
Attend church once in a while. Maybe even weekly. But we don’t do much with our faith.
We don’t really talk to God all that much.
It’s not radically changing our finances, or what we talk about, who we tell Jesus about, or what we study, or how we serve, or spend our time.
We just sort of believe and go to church. Meh.
Not Hot. And it’s not cold. It’s just sort-of lukewarm.
And it’s not on purpose. We’re not trying to be lazy. We’re not trying to be apathetic or lukewarm…
It’s just well, we’re busy…we’ve got a family and a house…and school…and work…and things to take care of.
It’s not like we don’t believe, it’s just we’re tired and we’ve got a lot going on. You know what I mean? It’s normal.
But apparently Jesus doesn’t think our “American normal” is okay.
In fact, he just said that our “normal” lukewarmness is so repulsive to him, that he’s about to spit us out.
Well, what’s the deal?
I’ll tell you exactly what the deal is…but as a preface, I’m just not sure most of us want to hear it. Seriously.
Jesus hates indifference and lukewarmness.
“To believe that he died in your place…and also offers that for everyone else that doesn’t know him yet, and then pay him back with a “Shoulder Shrug of Complacency” is almost more offensive than blatant rebellion
It’s not hot nor cold. It’s just a nauseating lukewarm
WHY WE’RE COMPLACENT
But why are so many of us complacent?
Why is our faith just, well, kind of stalled? Kind of “blah?”
Well, let’s look at the text again. These verses are pretty famous for being quoted out of context…so let’s actually look at the context.
(Revelation 3:17a) – NIV – JUST SHOW FIRST PART OF VERSE FOR NOW
You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’
Laodicea was actually the wealthiest city in its region during the Roman times.
And their wealth merely funded their complacency.
I mean again, they believed in Jesus, that he died for them, but not a whole lot more.
And well, life was pretty decent, they didn’t need to believe a whole lot more.
Life was just fine.
Much like here in the US.
Because despite the fact that you might feel “poor,” even the average Minnesotan is already richer than 96% of the rest of the world.
I was reading the other day about some Indonesian believers who were risking their lives to sneak out and go to church.
And I was so struck by that. Just for attending a Sunday service, they were literally risking their lives. They could die!!
But here…we won’t even talk to our co-workers about Jesus…because we could get in trouble with our boss for talking about God at work.
A large part of our complacency is simply because we’ve learned to rely on ourselves.
We think …we got ourselves a job (which is also why we therefore are afraid to risk it for God) …WE got ourselves a place to live, We put money in our bank account and on and on…
And in the delusion of the illusion, we get so complacent that we don’t even really see a need for Jesus because WE are already taking care of ourselves!
Almost every single one of us can be so satisfied in our lukewarmness simply because our American affluence is the very curtain of our own complacency.
Where if you lived in Haiti…or in parts of Muslim Indonesia…or in the underground church of China…
You’re hot or cold. Complacency isn’t even an option on the table.
And thus…here we are…struggling in 2013…with the same sins that the wealthy city of Laodicea did 2000 years ago
IT’S AN ILLUSION
But Complacency...while it might feel completely normal to you…is an illusion.
To be a believer in Jesus Christ…and be okay with being anything but passionate for Him…is an illusion…
And I’m not talking about what we referred to in our stages of faith series, when we talked about stage 3: darkenss where people really struggle in the darkness. That’s a different animal.
I’m talking about…you being completely okay with…just drifting by in your faith.
Like…you don’t serve…don’t’ really give…don’t hang out w/ other believers…don’t tell people about Jesus…read your Bible every once in a while…come to church fairly often…believe in Jesus…but mostly just in a…I think about him once a day sort of way.
And to be okay with that…is an irrational illusion.
It’s like being told the world is going to end and then going home and watching the voice and eating a bowl of ice cream like any other day.
It’s like being told, here’s a map to a million dollars and saying “Meh, no thanks”
In fact, Christian complacency is so irrational that they only way we can live in that irrationality, is to force ourselves into thinking it’s normal.
That we’re just fine. But what is that. It’s ILLUSIONARY thinking!
And Jesus describes it in those illusionary terms, look at the rest of this verse
(Revelation 3:17) - NIV
You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
Whoa. Whoa. Wait, what?
Again…let’s not just quote this out of context. Jesus is talking to believers here! Believers!
People who believe in him…but they’re not radical about him, they’re not crazy for him…they just sort of…meh…believe.
He says, It’s pitiful…it’s not wealth, it’s actually poverty. It’s not seeing, it’s actually blindness.
Because to say that you believe that God sent his very own son to die on a cross…and take YOUR punishment…for all of YOUR sins…and that YOU believe he died a brutal death on the cross…giving his all to save YOUR life.
And then merely mentally assent to that…and give some sort of half-hearted effort in return…is buying into an illusion.
An illusion that complacency makes any sort of sense.
Complacency in and of it self, by definition is an illusion.
It’s where we think it’s okay to just relax and go par for the course…as danger...creeps up.
Jesus boldly tells us that life is found not in being our own god and providing for ourselves…but it’s found in radically trusting in His ways.
(Revelation 3:18-20) – NIV
18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. 19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
Laodicea was a city that was rich with wealth and Jesus says…perhaps your wealth is merely just your god?
Your false god that causes you to relax and forget who even gave you breath?
No..buy gold from me…refined in the fire. True riches are found in a life fully satisfied in me..
This was a city that was famous for their massive textile industry.
And to them…Jesus says…buy your white clothes from me.
Because the most important thing you’ll ever wear is to be dressed in white by Him for eternity…not to be wearing the famous brands of the day.
This was a city that, interestingly enough, was famous for an eye salve they invented.
And EVEN to that, Jesus says, put your life and faith in the one that can help you spiritually see…not just physically see!
Their confidence that these things of the world are helping them get by have only created the illusion that the things of the world are enough.
Their confidence in the things of the world is actually the thing that created the illusion of complacency in them.
And turned their heart to lukewarmness.
But you can not trust in the things of this world.
That’s why Jesus straight up says its an illusion.
They think they have great clothes on, but their as naked as the emperor and his new clothes
Because clothes and homes and wealth and health can all disappear.
It’s why he says in verse 19 that those whom he loves he rebukes and disciplines.
Sometimes God disciplines us and takes those very things away from us, merely because he knows by ripping the illusionary curtain of complacency right from under us, it’ll at least startle us awake to Him again.
Complacency is both an issue of being overly satisfied with the way things are AND of being afraid…of not really trusting in what they could become.
In a sense…complacency can often be traced back to fear. To a lack of belief. Let me put it this way.
Back in 1859, a few years before the civil war stopped life in America, the country was riveted by a French tightrope walker named “Blondin.”
He was famous for his incredible aerial feats in Paris, but was brought over by an American promoter to walk a tightrope over Niagara Falls.
Thousands of people came out to see him cross the Falls.
But most people were super skeptical.
Even the New York Times said it was ridiculous.
Well Blondin ended up very successfully crossing over the falls on a tightrope from the Canadian side to the American side, even stopping for a while to stand on one leg…just cause…
After he crossed over, he said this to the promoter:
“Well, Mr. Promoter…now do you believe I can do it?”
He said, “Well of course I do. I just saw you do it.”
“No, no, no,” said Blondin. “Do you believe I can do it?”
“Yes,” the promoter said, “I believe you can do it.”
“Good,” Blondin said. “Then you get in the wheelbarrow, and we’ll go back across.”
And it begs a serious question about faith vs. complacency.
How often do we say that we believe Christ can do it, but we refuse to get in the wheelbarrow?
We say that we believe He can change our lives…but will you trust Him for it?
We say that we believe He can use us to do great things…but will you trust Him for it?
We say that we believe if we gave him our everything, He would move mountains with us, he would radically transform you, that you would feel love, and passion and be on fire…but will you actually get in His wheelbarrow?
Or will you keep on believing…but not really believing?
And in settling for the illusion of complacency, we’re missing out.
See, it’s like this: Imagine walking into a large room.
And this room is cut in half by a big curtain.
And all you can see is half the room. The other half is behind the curtain.
On the side of the room you can see, it’s pretty empty. Just a chair and a small table with an apple on it.
The apple, from far away anyway, looks good, but who knows, it could be rotten.
But you can’t see what’s behind the curtain. Could be nothing. Could be amazing.
But as you walk in the room, you notice there are signs all over the curtain.
They appear to be warnings.
They say things like, “DO not enter. Too risky. Stay safe! You could get hurt here. Financial risk. Occupational risk. Reputational risk. Don’t open the curtain!
And immediately you think, “No way I’m opening that curtain. What if it’s something scary behind the curtain? What if it’s a lion? Or the floor just drops out? Or who knows!”
So you sit down at the table with the apple…and as you sit down, you see a note. And the note just simply says, “Forget the boring apple, behind the curtain…you’ll find an amazing buffet arranged by me.”
And you know what….in life, it’s always easier to just sit down and eat the apple. Looks good enough, right?
The world and everyone else is telling you that’s enough. Seems satisfying enough.
And at least you know it’ safe. Who knows what’s behind the curtain of faith?
But I ask you this morning? WHO will you trust? The signs of fear and complacency and selfishness put up by the world?
Or you will trust the Word of God?
Don’t just merely believe…get in the wheelbarrow!
God is calling you to a lot…and it’ll demand your all, your everything, but IT is GOOD! SO good!
You know, my biggest fear is that perhaps you’ve fallen for the most dangerous illusion of all. Turn to Matthew 7 with me.
(Matthew 7:21-23) – NIV
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
For many of us, we do know Jesus. We have a relationship with Him, but we’re just stuck in complacency.
But maybe for you, that’s not the case.
Maybe you’ve always considered yourself a Christian well, because, you live in America, and you go to church. That’s a Christian.
But Jesus, again, very boldly, says that’s not the case.
He says, not everyone who says his name and does some Christian things will be given eternal life. Will go to heaven.
But, my friends, I beg of you, hear me on this…that is THE most dangerous illusion of all.
And as we speak of complacency, I must ask you this morning, are you absolutely sure, that if you were to die tomorrow, that you are going to heaven?
Do you have a relationship with Jesus or do you just, well, “believe he exists?”
Those are 2 completely different things.
And 1 is not real belief. For the Bible says, Even the demons believe Jesus exists. And shudder.
Maybe you’ve never even really heard what Jesus is all about.
And that doesn’t mean you’re new to this whole church thing either.
I sat in a church for 18 years, but just assumed it was about believe God exists and be nice to people.
But here’s what the Bible really says.
See, 2,000 years ago, God sent his son Jesus to earth, to teach us, and most importantly, to die on a cross.
Because you and I fall way short of this Holy God’s standards. Way short.
And what we deserve for a lifetime of ignoring and rebelling against God…is punishment.
God after all, is a just God.
But to satisfy that justice, in the most loving move of all time, he sent his son, to be a sacrifice, to take our place, and our punishment, and the Bible says, that if you believe in that, you will be saved.
That if you believe that Jesus died for you, you will be forgiven of everything you’ve ever done. And granted eternal life w/ Him in heaven.
And these are crazy questions, but I’m going to ask it because they are the most important questions of your life: Do you have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ? Have you put your trust in Him? This God that loves you so much that He died for you!
If you were to die tonight? Do you know for a fact that you are going to heaven and not hell?
I spent 18 years in my life in utter complacency. “Oh well, yeah, God is real, I’m a nice person. I’m pretty sure I’m going to heaven.
But don’t be pretty sure. Be sure.
My belief was an illusionary complacency based on my own ideas about God…not the Bible’s.
And the Bible says He sent his son on a rescue mission for you. Have you accepted the rescue?
So today…if you want to follow Jesus…and be completely forgiven…accept His rescue, you can do that.
But again, this isn’t just believing he died. It’s jumping in the wheelbarrow and saying, I will follow you with my life!
If you want to do that today, let’s do it.
In fact, let’s all bow our heads and close our eyes…as I want this to be a special moment between you and God.
If you want to believe in what Jesus did for you and commit your life to him (to make Him your leader & forgiver) to be completely forgiven! If that’s you…and you’ve never done this before…in just a few moments, I’m going to ask you to raise your hand
We’ll all have our eyes closed, so this is just between you & God
But I believe today, it’s important for you to raise your hand today, as a symbol to say, “You died for me…for ME…I believe. I’ll follow now”
So wherever you are, all across this room right now. If you’d like to become a follower of Christ, and accept his gift of forgiveness, raise your hand wherever you are.
If you’re raising your hand, would you pray this prayer with me?
It’s not a magic prayer…but just a prayer to tell God where you’re at…and the Bible says, we 1) believe in our hearts and 2) confess with our mouths.
So I want you to say it out loud with me. Repeat after me
IN fact, there are a lot of other believers already in the room, and this is what we believe.
So, let’s all say it together with these new believers.
EVERYONE repeat after me with these new believers.
I confess to you, that I have sinned against you.
But God I believe, that you sent your Son Jesus, to take my place
And God I thank you, for forgiving my sins.
And now I commit, to following you, with my life. Amen
AMEN!! Let’s just clap and praise God.
Let me thank Him and PRAY.
If you gave your life to Christ today, I need you to do just 1 thing for me
Right after the service today, I want you to go to either the back of the room or to the right of the hallway table on your way out…for just a moment.
In the back, and in the hallway, there are signs that say “FOLLOW-UP”
There will be some incredibly nice people there (they have lanyards on) who want to give you some extremely helpful tools to help you get started in your faith
Won’t take you very long. But absolutely go back there.
Let me just pray & thank God!
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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