Fighting Spiritual Complacency
Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Rev. 3:3
In chapter 3 of Revelation, Jesus warns the church at Sardis to repent and return to God. The majority of believers had become spiritually complacent; they had become spiritually weak. They were no longer following a fervent spiritual lifestyle. Instead of guarding their hearts from spiritual attack, they had become spiritually lazy. They were spiritually comfortable with what they had and unconcerned about the future.
The church is warned from becoming spiritually complacent regarding their actions and the attacks of the enemy. It was a call to not let the ease of life lull the believers to sleep spiritually, but rather to finish the race.
In verse 3, the church at Sardis is warned that if the church did not wake up, Jesus would come like an unexpected and unwelcome thief.
When I visited Dublin, Ireland, in 2012, I was dismayed to discover that the Central Tourist Office there used to be a church. And then I stumbled onto another building that used to be a church but is now a pub and restaurant.
From the size of these churches, they must have once housed 1000s of worshippers. What happened to the body of believers who once filled the pews in these churches?
Europe gave such great reformers as Luther, Calvin, Knox, Wesley, and many others and has now become a graveyard for churches. How did this happen?
The answer is complacency. Just like the church in Sardis, the people in Europe were complacent. They probably rode on the reputation of the great reformers of the past and the authority of the church and felt they did not have to do anything else.
When Charles Darwin popularised his theory of evolution in the 19th century, the church remained silent instead of defending God’s image-bearing creation. When the world went through two world wars in the early part of the 20th century, and people questioned why God allowed suffering, the church again remained quiet. On top of that, the church was not actively involved in evangelism.
Then when secularism, a doctrine that rejects religion, was becoming more and more popular in the mid-20th century, and people started to question the existence of God, the church was already facing divisions created by those who embraced liberal theology, the use of science as all-knowing to validate or disprove Bible passages.
In the end, Christ did what he warned the church in Sardis he would do. He removed every church that went into spiritual slumber.
Christians who slumber in complacency do not live up to their high calling in Christ Jesus. When Jesus comes unexpectantly, those slumbering believers will forfeit their rewards at His Judgment Seat (1 Corinthians 3:13–15; 2 Corinthians 5:10).
Thank you for continuing to pursue my heart. While there is breath in my lungs, I know you are continuing your good work in me. Lord, reveal to me the places I’ve fallen complacent and help me follow your lead as I surrender them to you. I pray I live a life that leads others to you and your truth.
In Jesus’ name,