(Photo by Lydia Salas)
Five Hard Truths About Complacency
By Emma Verschueren
More often than not, I feel like I’m a stranger to God. As much as I hate admitting that, the truth is I allow this discord by becoming comfortable and complacent. It’s the state of being where I let myself be so content with the person I am, the broken world around me, and the sickening satisfaction of thinking I already know everything there is to know about God. Have you been there?
Complacency makes us rot. Therefore, it must be understood and combatted. Something that has helped me in taking baby steps toward overcoming this smugness is nailing out five hard truths about complacency:
1. Complacency paralyzes spiritual growth.
The American Theologian A.W. Tozer writes in his book The Pursuit of God, “Complacency… is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth,” because complacency lets us be satisfied with the state of our sin. Spiritual growth, whether we realize it or not, is born out of adversity, toil and tears. Nothing good ever comes from stagnation.
2. Complacency acts as false peace.
It is easy to mix up complacency with contentment. However, they are vastly different. Contentment is being at peace with where God has you, how He made you, and it produces a desire to keep that peace by establishing greater intimacy with God. Complacency, on the other hand, makes us believe that we’ve reached the end of ourselves and that there is no more need for further growth. True peace only comes from the continual inflow of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
3. Complacency festers sin.
Our society, especially our Christian subculture, worships comfort. In our world, we do whatever makes us feel happy or satisfied. In our lives we do the same; I’m the probably the most guilty of all. By making excuses to avoid reading my Bible and saying a thirty-second prayer to fulfill my spiritual duty of the day, I’m refusing to address the sin in my life. Furthermore, as I allow complacency and laziness to rule over me, I underestimate the power of sin and brush it off by saying, “It’s just something I struggle with — always have, always will.” That shouldn’t be the case. God came to liberate us from the cycle of sin and wants us to be filled with the Spirit instead.
4. Complacency undermines God’s sovereignty.
Too many times in my life I’ve subconsciously thought either I’m happy without God’s hand in my life, or I don’t need him to get what I want. To put it simply, I’ve made myself the god of my life, and that’s the worst position I could be in. Complacency tends to be the recurring issue with my spirituality, and often the remedy is humility. When I look at the life of Paul, the Saints, and different martyrs who have sacrificed and suffered for Christ throughout the ages, the need for Him becomes clearer to me.
5. Complacency is no match for God.
Despite how much complacency can control my spiritual life, the reality is that no sin is bigger than God. God will never stop pursuing us, and His plan is to restore us completely. As Tozer said, “God wants the whole person, and will never rest until He gets us entirely. No part of the man will do.” But we must allow God to have a foothold in our lives. Don’t be satisfied with anything less than a completely spirit-filled, Jesus-seeking life.
In one of the final chapters of The Pursuit of God he prays, “Make me ambitious to please Thee even if as a result I must sink into obscurity and my name be forgotten as a dream.” If there’s anything we should get out of our Christian lives, it is to understand that our lives are not our own. Don’t be satisfied with knowing Christ minimally and instead put your life in a position to be forgotten. God has good things for us in Him; don’t be satisfied with a life without him.