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Chapter 9 - Fat and happy
What I fear is complacency. When things always become better, people tend to want more for less work. - Lee Kuan Yew
Because of sin, God changed creation to be difficult;
And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. - Genesis 3:17-19
In addition, God brings us difficulties;
And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. - Hebrews 12:5-6
It is fairly easy for Satan to set the course of this world according to the principles of fast, cheap, and easy. The appeal is strong.
There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. - Proverbs 14:12
In addition to the deceitfulness of riches, other worldly comforts can work to remove any desire to follow truth;
But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. - Luke 16:25
But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings' courts. - Luke 7:25
And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. - Luke 12:19
The problem of our getting comfortable and letting complacency make us inert from the path the Lord would have us walk was recognized by Moses;
And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not, And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full; Then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. - Deuteronomy 6:10-12
Complacency is not necessarily limited to physical comforts. One can also arrive at a belief system that provides assurances of completion which remove any incentive to continue a spiritual path. For example if a person thinks of themselves as “elect”, even though they may not be tempted to go on a spree of sinful indulgence, they may not see much need of growing in faith, drawing nearer the Lord, or pursuing Christ-likeness.
If a Christian is inclined towards legalistic systems, he may feel that having achieved success in rule observance, there is little left to do in his Christian walk. Many denominations assure their members that their baptism, church membership, or sacrament observance fulfills all Christian requirements so that they can get on with their real lives. Sadly, many church systems even operate to quench questioning or any spark of initiative in a church member to divert them away from an ardent seeking after the Lord into a program, event, or class.
Complacency is not only a failure to progress in the Christian life, it is fertile ground for the development of the blindness that can result in the play-acting of hypocrisy. The person who has an arrested spiritual development may feel that there is no need to progress because he has achieved all that is required. This perspective tends to foster smugness and then even contempt for others. A Christian can act as though he has finished the race because he has lost sight of the finish line (Christ-likeness).
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, - Hebrews 12:1
For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. - James 1:23-24
It is so easy to slip into a life that takes God for granted and allows us to pursue our own plans and interests. It would be cruel for God to give us salvation and leave us here in this sinful world unless there was work of his here he wanted us to do. Our neglect of God’s purposes is a pretty poor response to his gift of eternal life.
How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; - Hebrews 2:3
Sadly, churches have had much responsibility in creating passive Christians. The structure of running Christianity as a system requires Christians to be functional components. In addition, the promulgation of salvation criteria promotes the idea that Christianity is limited to just getting to heaven. Once Christianity can be reduced in one’s mind to criteria that can be accomplished, all sorts of options open up to pursue our own interests. This is most obviously demonstrated by the fact that most claiming the name of Christ only set aside an hour a week to concern themselves with him.
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