The Danger Of Complacency

By Grayson Oliver, Counselor and blog contributor


“A feeling of being satisfied with how things are, and not wanting to try to make them better.” That is what Webster tells us that complacency is, and when we associate that with our walk with Christ, it seems a little frightening, as well as being right where Satan wants us to be. If we convince ourselves that we have reached a point of satisfaction in which we are comfortable with our faith and do not feel the need to move any further toward pleasing God and getting out of our comfort zone, we have lost the battle, and have been deceived by the Enemy. When we believe that our spiritual life plays second fiddle to OUR life, we have been defeated because complacency is the most dangerous place we can be as a believer. This is where we become lazy; this is where we become lukewarm; this is where we are deceived.

"For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don't know which is better." This is what Paul wrote to Philippi in Philippians 1:21-22. Seeing the commitment and the drive to work and glorify the Lord is nothing new, and we also see it in Galatians 5:24 when he tells us "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to the cross and crucified them there."

For most Christ Followers these verses come across as powerful, encouraging to some, and even convicting. We all have good intentions when speaking of growing in our relationship with Christ, Thinking "I need to read my bible more", "I can't wait to get into the new devotional I just bought," or "I need to pray more expectantly," but somewhere along the way we begin to realize the intentions are just that...intentions. At what point to we step back and look at ourselves, our situation, and our motivation?

Lou Holtz once said that "Ability is what we are capable of doing, motivation determines what we do, and attitude determines how well we do it." Now, when Coach Holtz starts talking football, I may see things a little different, but as for his view on ability, motivation, and attitude, I couldn't agree more. However, I wonder if Coach Holtz realized what this statement meant for us that follow Christ? (I’ll return to this)

I understand that life happens, for all of us, actually; whether it's taking our kids to activities, working on the house, catching up with our finances, or even catching up on our favorite TV shows that we regretfully missed due to some prior commitments...even at church, perhaps. One day comes and then it passes, and so does the next, all the while we are on auto-pilot simply cruising through our daily routines while the hours seem to fly by.

While others of us are on hyper-drive, quickly wanting to conquer the next obstacle that is ahead of us. Consumed with the taste of success, and the life we have achieved (or want to achieve) for ourselves and family; all the while forgetting who has provided the very opportunities for us. My Grandmother once gave me a pin to place the visor in my sports car that read “don’t drive faster than your angels can fly.” When do we begin to live our lives faster than our angels can fly, or to a point that our faith can’t keep up?

We sometimes forget that Psalm 46:10 tells us to "Be still and know that I am God!" I don't believe that there is an exclamation point on the end of that sentence for no reason. I believe he meant it! "But with everything going on..." we say to preface another excuse, in order to make ourselves feel just a tad better about avoiding the scripture that we claim to know will change our lives. We also tend to point fingers toward other things and people in order to place blame on them for making us so busy, however, Galatians 6:5 tells us clearly "for we are each responsible for our own conduct."

C.S. Lewis, in “The Screwtape Letters”, writes “a moderated religion is as good as no religion at all…” and it seems to coincide with Revelation 3:16 when it talks about being lukewarm in our faith. We have become complacent. Furthermore, sometimes we have even become complacent in the fact that we are complacent! The simple expectation of that which we expect to be is the easy part, yet the work that is required of us, as well as some of the steps to get there, is the difficult part. We tend to listen to the enemy telling us that the work that’s required to keep growing closer to Christ and to keep our faith strong is too much for us to fit into our busy schedule, and “we are doing just fine as we are.” What is it about our walk with Christ that we feel we can put it on the back-burner? What is it about our salvation that we feel like tomorrow is the perfect day (and then tomorrow turns into tomorrow)? We have lost motivation, as well as our sight of what should be the driving force of our lives.

For me, being lukewarm and being spit out of God’s mouth is not something that I’m exactly striving for. So we go back to the Lou Holtz quote (I can hear him saying it now – lisp and all) “Ability is what we are capable of doing, motivation determines what we do, and attitude determines how well we do it.” God gives us the ability, with his power and guidance, to do anything – we read about this in Philippians 4:13 – so then, is it us to us to handle what we do and how well we do it. With that logic, it seems as though many of us choose to be complacent and allow our faith to be stagnant, allowi/.ng other interests or convictions to become priority over strengthening our faith in Christ. Most of these interests and convictions are rooted in our self-centered ideations of a world that revolves around ourselves.

Battling our own selfish desires will be one of the most difficult tasks we will ever do, and we will do it for the rest of our lives. Galatians 5:24 tells us “those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.” Mark 8:35 says “if you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.” And finally James 3:16 says “for wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.”

So to finish, we must take a step back. Through taking a step back we examine our priorities, our desires, and the condition of our faith. All of these are factors in our complacent Christian life, or our God honoring, thriving Christian life. It is up to us, and only us, to combat our complacency, find our motivation, adjust our attitude, and have a view of Christ that merits nothing but the top priority in our life. Compelled to worship, driven to serve, and eager to work toward the life that God calls us to live so that we may find freedom in Him. Putting ourselves, our desires, and our complacency to the side for the sake of His glory.