Five Ways to Combat Christian Complacency
Updated: Apr 27, 2021
[This article is featured in full on the Living By Design blog. Photo credit: Living By Design by Sarah Koontz.]
As winter drags its feet and the fluff on my slippers wears thin, I’m often tempted to slip into a rhythm in my spiritual walk that looks suspiciously close to the winter blues. That draw into dormancy and the desire to bury into blankets can transfer to a spiritual sagging — a recession of heart.
By now, though, I know this about myself and have discovered ways to ward off my lethargy. I find that the answer lies in setting aside the Jesus-y “must’s” and instead focusing on why I fell in love with Jesus in the first place.
Are you, too, stepping a toe into a season of holy apathy? Let me share five ways to combat Christian complacency.
1) Battle Christian complacency by stepping away from the checklist.
Just like a snow day is good for my soul, I’ve found that taking a break from routine refreshes me. But it’s more than that.
When I see my Christian walk as a must, a should, an ought to, I’m missing the point. Christ didn’t come for us to be prisoners to systems and processes and regiments. He came for us to be connected to Him.
From cover to cover, God’s Word is an invitation to come. He longs to be with us.
When I seek Him, and think on Who He is and what He has done for me, I begin to long to be with Him. I often look to verses like this one as examples of how He thinks of us: “When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers — the moon and the stars you set in place — what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? Yet you made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor,” (Psalm 8:3-5, NLT).
When I lay down the checklist and instead remember what He thinks of me, I can’t wait to spend time with Him.
2) Battle Christian complacency by discovering how you feel most connected to God.
I was twelve the first time I understood that walking in the woods preaches loudly to my soul. I was at a church retreat, walking with my leader and friends, but I saw a small grassy patch next to a waterfall, and I pictured myself sitting there with a notebook.
I wanted to hold back and linger.
Though I’d always been an in-the-woods kind of girl, that day began in me an understanding that I sense His whispers when I’m among the trees.
In his book, Sacred Pathways, pastor and author Gary Thomas introduces nine different ways to connect with God, called sacred pathways. We may be drawn to several of those sacred pathways or gravitate towards just one or two. We know, too, that God speaks to us through His Word, in prayer, or through people and circumstances (Henry Blackaby, Experiencing God).
We may hear Him through all of these, or more loudly through one or two. How He speaks to each of us is individual and can look different based on how He has made us.
God doesn’t follow a formula, and He may speak to your heart in different ways than He speaks to mine. Knowing how we connect most closely with God will help us move past “musts” into true intimacy.
3) Battle Christian complacency by spending time in God’s Word.
Does the Bible sometimes seem like an ancient, giant book filled with people who have hard names and places that have disappeared and confusing sentences? The first time I read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” (John 1:1, ESV), I was like, what is happening? Even though I still can’t get my head completely around the beauty and depth of this verse, the truth it tells connects me to Him: the Word is Jesus and Jesus is the Word. They are one and the same. We also know from Hebrews 4:12 that the Word of God is alive.
So are you ready for this? That means, if I love Jesus, then I already love the Word.
If Jesus is the Word, and the Word is alive, then when we read those thin pages, time in the Word is time with The Word. Our time reading those pages is an actual, real conversation with our Living God. It’s not just reading to read — it’s reading towards a deeper relationship.
4) Battle Christian complacency by trying a (short-term) soul commitment.
When someone asks me to sign up for something new — something that implies having to adopt a new discipline or add more structure into my already packed day, I’m going to panic.
It’s overwhelming to me to think about committing to something new, especially if it’s a “should” that I “must” do every day for the rest of my life. I immediately can’t breathe, and I want to run to my secret chocolate stash.
But, if you tell me to try something for five days, or ten days, or three weeks, then I’m open to it. In times of burnout or complacency, what if you commit to meeting Him for just five days in a row?
Plan a time, grab a pen and a journal, and open your Bible. If you can’t decide where to begin, open the YouVersion Bible app and click “Open Story.” Read, listen, write down the thoughts that come to you, and talk with God about it.
Do this for five days, and then ask yourself how it felt. Did it surprise you? Did the time speak to you? Every time I’ve committed to a short-term soul challenge, I’ve been refreshed and motivated to keep going. Perhaps taking smaller steps toward refreshment will lead to long-term fuel for your soul.
5) Battle Christian complacency by creating time and space for God to speak to you.
Until well into adulthood, my approach to “being a good Christian” was a “do this, do that” mentality. That mindset fueled complacency because it was all about me. I did all the things for God , but I never gave God the chance to speak to me.
When I learned that God still speaks to us today, it changed everything.
Read the rest of this article at the Living By Design blog.
Thank you for being here! To read more about hearing God louder, be sure to check out the Hear Him Louder Essay Series.
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