Confronting Complacency - 21 July 2020
By Louise Gevers
- Psalms 66:16-20
16Come and listen, all who honour God,
and I will tell you what he has done for me.
17I cried to him for help;
I praised him with songs.
18If I had ignored my sins,
the Lord would not have listened to me.
19But God has indeed heard me;
he has listened to my prayer.
20I praise God,
because he did not reject my prayer
or keep back his constant love from me.
Complacent is not a word that describes God, because it is not a characteristic of His divine nature; He is vitally interested in His creation and His act of incarnation in Jesus Christ testifies to this. His love is active and steadfast in relation to His people (2 Chronicles 6:14); He never sleeps (Psalm 121:3), He works constantly (Psalm 121:7-8), and He actively engages with His creation in just righteousness. By contrast, we earthly creatures are too well acquainted with the pitfalls of complacency, often preferring to take the wide road.
John Bunyan, in “The Pilgrim’s Progress”, describes Christian’s encounter with Simple, Sloth and Presumption, who are asleep near the cross. Christian invites them to accompany him on his journey to the Celestial City, but content where they are, they refuse it. Simple doesn’t see the need to study, understand, or apply what the Bible teaches; Sloth sees no good reason to do something difficult, or costly, and Presumption wants to stay where he can see the cross, because he assumes that, should something go wrong, being near it would be sufficient to put it right.
These complacent characters are unwilling to leave their comfort zone and show little enthusiasm for reaching the Celestial City. They are familiar with all the teachings of faith but choose not to engage meaningfully, ignoring James’s injunction to, “look closely into the perfect law that sets people free, and keep on paying attention to it … not simply listen and then forget it, but put it into practice…” (James 1:25.)
The psalmist’s words today tell a very different story to that of the complacent companions; his words are a testimony to the active, joyful relationship he enjoys with God. He calls for those who revere Him to come to hear how God has responded to his worship and to his cry for help. He has not neglected to praise God, nor to confess his sins to Him, and God has listened and responded. These few verses show evidence of a flourishing relationship in which there is giving on both sides, questions with answers, and faithful love and acceptance between God and him; it is warm and vibrant – not stagnant and self-seeking.
God gives unsparingly and expects us to respond wholeheartedly. He is everywhere, so there is never a good time to put our relationship with Him on hold. He is present and powerful in our lives, and we are the poorer if we do not give Him our all.
Prayer: Father God, Everything about You is dynamic. Please, save us from our complacency so that we may serve You with whole-hearted love and joy. Amen