Without a doubt, there have been times in all our lives when we’ve felt complacent. Times when we feel like there’s nothing to be done, when our passion simply dwindles and we aren’t sure why, when we decide we are okay with settling for less than something’s full potential.
In church culture, complacency is a word that’s thrown around a lot.
Complacency is defined as “a calm satisfaction with one’s own abilities or situation that prevents one from trying harder.” Another source says it’s “a feeling of smug or uncritical satisfaction with oneself or one’s achievements.” There may be a million ways to say it, but it all comes back to the idea that we have become self-sufficient, and proud of it.
In Revelation 3, Jesus speaks to three churches: Sardis, the “dead” church, Philadelphia, the “faithful” church, and Laodicea, the “lukewarm” church. In verses 15-17, Jesus addresses Laodicea, saying, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself…”
It’s crazy to me that after addressing a church he considered “dead,” Jesus tells the church of Laodicea that he wishes they were either hot or cold!
With my limited perspective, it seems like there are plenty of worse things than being lukewarm— being dead is one of them! But according to Jesus, it’s better to be dead in sin, recognize our need, and repent, than become lukewarm towards Jesus out of our own self-sufficiency.
Self-sufficiency points back to one thing: pride.
It’s the idea that we are capable of fulfilling every need, plan, and purpose ourself. Without even realizing it, self-sufficiency laughs in the face of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for our sins, because we don’t recognize our need for a savior.
Proverbs 3:34 tells us that “The Lord mocks the mockers, but is gracious to the humble” (NLV). James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5 reference this by saying, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
The Bible makes it pretty clear that if we don’t want God to be in opposition to us, our remedy is to practice humility.
If we don’t know what that looks like, Jesus gives us the perfect example through his own life! He served his disciples, made time for those the culture denied, and was patient when he had the right to fire back. Ultimately, he gave up his rights as God in Heaven and came to Earth with all human limitations, lived a blameless life, and still chose to die for us.
In John 12:49, Jesus says, “For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken.” Jesus—who was fully God—chose to be dependent on the Father.
If Jesus chose dependency, how much more do we need to recognize our own need and choose dependency and humility instead of self-sufficiency?
Lord, I pray that we would recognize our own limitations, and from a humble place we would come to you, completely expecting you to show up. Thank you that you love us so much that you sent your son to die for us, fully knowing we wouldn’t always appreciate it in the way Jesus deserves. We surrender our lives to you and declare that you have our best interests at heart, and that you have the wisdom and authority to lead us into the places you are calling us. Thank you for your faithfulness. Thank you for your unfailing love. Thank you for your son. Amen.
Author | Erin Gilleland