Ignorant. Obedient. Disobedient. Complacent.
When it comes to living the Christian life, which of these four might best describe the average American churchgoer at your church? Yes, it is a loaded question.
Not a fair one you say? Maybe a better way to phrase it would be: Which of these four lifestyles best describes your own relationship with the Lord? Well, how about it? How would you answer that question?
Would you say that you have been living a passionate Christian life, the way God intended you to? Would you describe yourself as being predominantly an Ignorant, Obedient, Disobedient, or a nose-deep-in-the-stinking-pit-of-spiritual-Complacency, kind of Christian?
I know—Ouch! Too often it is like that for me as well. Yet thanks be to the Lord that He is the God of second chances!
Most Christians do not like to think of themselves as Ignorant when it comes to the things of God, though all of us are to one degree or another. God is immeasurable, unfathomable, and far beyond all comprehension. We are brutally ignorant when it comes to knowing—not only the hidden things of God—but even the revealed jewels found on the pages of Holy Scripture.
Yes, we are all biblically ignorant to one degree or another, but this cannot be the worst of these four conditions when it comes to most churchgoers today, could it? Undoubtedly the pursuit of knowing God’s Word is critical to growing in our love-relationship with Christ, but the pits of hell are no doubt teeming with the souls of men who once read, studied, taught, or even memorized what the Bible has to say.
No, Ignorance of the Bible is not the biggest problem in most churches today, though it is certainly a formidable one.
What about being Obedient to the Christian life? Lord willing you can remember numerous times in your life when you succeeded rather than failed—resisted temptation rather than stumbled—obeyed the Lord rather than rebelled. But if you are anything like the rest of us (and trust me, you are), there are also more times than you are comfortable admitting to when you did not obey what you knew was the Lord’s will. Right?
And yet, being Obedient to God and His Word couldn’t be defined as a negative condition, could it? No, it is a positive! Obedience is the very emblem of a genuine disciple of Jesus Christ. Faithful obedience to the Word of God is precisely what we are to be occupied with here in this world.
So no, having an Obedient congregation certainly is not a problem for today’s church.
That leaves the biggest problem for the average churchgoer today as being either Disobedient or Complacent.
Being Disobedient to God is never a good thing. No doubt about it. God hates sin with a holy passion and, sadly, too often we are disobedient to the commandments of almighty God.
Yet this also cannot be the worst problem in today’s American church because most of the churchgoers you know put on a pretty convincing show come Sunday morning. They guard their tongues from cussing (for the most part) and shout a hearty “Amen!” whenever the preacher calls for abstaining from sex, drugs and alcohol. They smile and shake your hand (“Good to see you brother!”) when they drop their kids off for Sunday school. Some can even sing the words of Amazing Grace from memory.
Thankfully, public Disobedience to God is not the main problem today for most American churchgoers who call themselves Christian. Oddly enough, this seems to be increasing at an alarming rate as well.
So if the biggest problem in most American churches today is not Ignorance, Obedience, or even Disobedience, then that leaves us with plain ‘ole Complacency.
It’s sad. Really it is. Hundreds of thousands of professing churchgoers today are living joyless lives, drowning in a stagnant pool of spiritual complacency.
Complacency. What does it mean to be spiritually complacent, exactly? Dictionary.com defines complacency as, “a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like; self-satisfaction or smug satisfaction with an existing situation.” Too many American churches are packed full of such spiritually complacent, would-be disciples of Jesus Christ.
Oh, not the church you attend—surely—but maybe some of the churches near yours. You know which ones I am talking about. They’re the ones you have heard others in your congregation gossiping about. You know the brand of churchgoers I am describing, don’t you?
They’re the ones generally content with the status quo, apathetic about serving others in the church, and they just can’t be bothered with Scripture’s command to, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!” (2 Corinthians 13:5). Never does it cross their unregenerate minds to ever sit down and count the cost of whether they are truly in the faith or just another costume-Christian strolling down the broad road of a comfortable religion that leads to spiritual ruin.
I don’t suppose you know any churchgoers like that?
Spiritual complacency is a cruel malady for countless thousands who darken the walls of contemporary Christianity. It isn’t too difficult to pick them out of the crowd.
They are usually the ones somewhat consistent in attending the main worship service at their church, yet never give a second thought to joining a life group, a Sunday school flock group, or even a small-group Bible study during the week. Come Sunday morning they roll out of bed, put on acceptable clothes for the occasion, show up to church two minutes before the music starts, sit in the same seat every Lord’s Day, and yet couldn’t care less about ministering to the needs of those around them.
Two seconds after the closing prayer they’re marching toward to their cars wondering what’s for lunch!
They toss God their meaty bone of sacrifice (ninety minutes of church attendance) and assume the Lord of creation is perfectly satisfied with their offering of sacred crumbs.
There you go, God—Fetch!
I don’t suppose you know any churchgoers like that, do you?