The Complacent Church

Scripture: Revelation 3:14-22, Zephaniah 1:1-14                                                           7/15/2018

Summary: How do we fight complacency in our spiritual lives?

Zephaniah 1:10-14 read

Revelation 3:14-22 read

I know you have sometimes become complacent. We all do. Believe me, I know complacency as well as anyone.

We might become complacent about the elections, or work, or homework.

Sometimes we become complacent about our spirituality, and our relationship with God, and that becomes a very dangerous time for us.

Sometimes Christians entertain such thoughts such as;

Don’t get too concerned…

Let’s keep things as they are…

Let someone else take care of it…

Or – I just don’t care.

Nothing can weaken or destroy our spiritual life more than complacency.

Soren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher, told a story about a goose who was wounded and who landed in a barnyard with some chickens.

He played with the chickens and ate with the chickens.

After a while that goose thought he was a chicken.

One day a flight of geese came over, migrating to their home. They gave a honk up there in the sky, and he heard it.

The philosopher said, “Something stirred within the breast of this goose. Something called him to the skies. He began to flap the wings he hadn’t used, and he rose a few feet into the air. Then he stopped, and he settled back again into the mud of the barnyard. He heard the cry, but he settled for less.”

Complacency keeps us in the mud of the barnyard and keeps us from becoming all God meant for us to be.

Zephaniah has a harsh word to say about the person who has become spiritually complacent. Zephaniah said, read Zep. 1:12. “To be settled on the lees” means confirmed or hardened in their evil habits. The figure comes from old wine that has not been poured off and so becomes so thick. They do not openly scoff, but say in their hearts, “The Lord will not do good, nor will He do evil,” thus placing Yahweh in the same category as idols.

There is no story or plot to this book. It is simply a speech, a sermon directed to a nation that had become complacent.

Zephaniah opens his book with a statement about who he is. He gives his credential. It’s like hanging one’s diploma in the office, or business license in the store.

Zephaniah starts his book with, “The word of the LORD that came to Zephaniah son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah.”

Now, I’m interested in genealogy. I like to know who my grandparents and great grandparents were. I like to preserve their stories. Zephaniah traces his family line to Hezekiah.

Now that is important because it gave Zephaniah a credential. Hezekiah had been a king. And as the great great grandson of King Hezekiah, Zephaniah was empowered. People would begin to listen to what he would say because of his family background.

It’s like a member of the Kennedy family – you have a bit of a head start because of the family name.

In Zephaniah’s time, almost everyone was complacent about God. God was no longer worshipped. The nation cared very little for God or the things about God.

But Zephaniah could remember great great granddaddy. King Hezekiah. If you look in the Old Testament history book of II Kings, we can learn something very important about Hezekiah.

5 Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.

6 He held fast to the LORD and did not cease to follow him; he kept the commands the LORD had given Moses.

7 And the LORD was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook. (II Kings 18:5-7).

Hezekiah lived a life as far from being complacent about God as possible.

He was on fire for God.

Contrast Hezekiah’s day to Zephaniah’s day, and they are worlds apart.

So, Zephaniah preaches a very harsh message to the complacent people of his day.

Zephaniah says, beginning in chapter 1, verse 12-18

God does not tolerate complacency.

In the third chapter of Revelation. God is addressing complacency and says, “because you are lukewarm– neither hot nor cold– I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

Now, we are all subject to becoming complacent.

Our souls become tired. Our spirits become fatigued.

We find ourselves thinking that the poor are all around us, someone else can take care of them.

There are lonely people in the church we could call on, but we don’t.

There are people in our neighborhood we could invite to come to church, but we ignore them.

There are commands that God has given us, but in a world in which people care very little for ethics and moral conduct, it is easy for us to yield to temptation, complacent about living for God.

How do you fight complacency?

How do you get “fired up for God” when the spark has died out?

In Revelation, God tells the angel of the complacent church of Laodicea, “Behold, Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me.”

In order to fight complacency, the first thing to do is that you have to hear the voice of God.

Listen to the Word of God.

In fact, Zephaniah doesn’t tell us what happens after he preaches his sermon of doom and gloom, but he does give us some clues.

Remember that family history he gave us in the first verse? The word of the LORD that came to Zephaniah son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah, during the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah” (Zephaniah 1:1)

Josiah became king at the age of 8. Sometime during the next decade or two, Zephaniah preached his sermon of doom and gloom.

But 18 years later, something remarkable happened.

We read about what happened in II Kings 22.

Josiah begins a city improvement program, and central to this program is the repair of the old temple. The Temple in Jerusalem had fallen into disrepair. As the workers begin to tear out rotten boards and replace broken structures, someone finds a book.

It is an ancient, long forgotten book.

It is the Word of God. Specifically, they have discovered the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy.

The book is delivered to King Josiah and it is read to him.

And Josiah tears his clothing and begins to sob. He realizes his nation has not been obedient to God.

And then the king seeks out people who still worshipped God and asks, “What now?”

It is a prophetess  named Huldah who delivers the answer (2 Kgs 22:14-17). It is a message similar to the doom and gloom sort of sermon that Zephaniah has been preaching. In fact, Huldah may have known Zephaniah and have personally listened to his preaching.

Huldah tells King Josiah, “This is what the LORD says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people, according to everything written in the book the king of Judah has read. Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and provoked me to anger by all the idols their hands have made, my anger will burn against this place and will not be quenched.”

But the king listens to the Word of God and repents and seeks God.

Behold, God was knocking at the door of the nation, the king heard the Word of God, opened the door and let God in.

And the king orders that the Word of God be read to the entire nation.

And as a result, disaster was averted. The people were spared.

Listening and being attentive to the Word of God – that is the cure for complacency.

Behold, Christ is knocking at the door of our lives, and of our church, and of our very nation.

Will we listen to the Word of God? Will we let God in?

Or, will we remain complacent?

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