The opposite of life is not death, it’s complacency….
A complacent person is searching for life.
"Complacency is a blight that saps energy, dulls attitudes, and causes a drain on the brain. The first symptom is satisfaction with things as they are. The second is rejection of things as they might be. "Good enough" becomes today's watchword and tomorrow's standard. Complacency makes people fear the unknown, mistrust the untried, and abhor the new. Like water, complacent people follow the easiest course -- downhill. They draw false strength from looking back." -- anonymous.
The scripture in 6 is even more pointed (Amos 6:1-6). The people quit caring about others and don’t even notice their neighbors.
Complacency can take two forms: those that are at ease. They’ve made it and so they sit back “sipping lemonade by the pool in the shade, while the world goes on around us” (the leaders of Israel) and those that are so overwhelmed, so tired, so uncertain, giving up hope that anything is ever going to change, so depressed, that they give up (the poor in Israel).
Everyone experiences complacency from time to time. It’s when complacency becomes a way of life it’s a problem. Here’s how another person describes complacency: “It invades areas once occupied by our passion, interest, desire, and focus. When complacent, the valued things that had captivated our thoughts, hearts, and energies tend to fade from priority and can even become mundane or the boring routine of everyday life. Burnout in our work life, loss of fire in relationships, and the lack of zeal for things we once held important are common experiences. The shame is not in complacency but in the failure to recognize it and take corrective measures to regain our footing.”
Let’s talk about the cure for Complacency! The last sentence is pointing forward, "The shame is not in complacency but in the failure to recognize it and take corrective measures to regain our footing.”
We see complacency in others so easily: the college professor droning through another lecture. The person who experience tragedy and can’t quite get energy to enter life again. Complacency can creep into the life of the musician whose music, once an expression of the soul, is just singing notes. It can impact the physician, the mechanic, the cook, and the preacher, the young mother. What about us?
"...to take corrective measures, to regain footing." Isn’t that why Amos preaches to Israel, not to condemn, but to point the way forward? Even if the people of Israel 500 years before Christ did not listen, the book of Amos is included in the Bible as a warning and model for us. Refuse to allow complacency to rule your life. I admire the woman who raised her children, had a career in office work, retired, her husband retired and a short time later he died, leaving her to decide what to do with the rest of her life. She chose to get involved in short term mission work, using her skills as bookkeeper and an office worker in foreign lands 6-9 months out of the year for the next 15-20 years.
Refuse to allow complacency to rule your life. The first step is awareness. I admire a friend named Ruth Glass who in the final few decades of her life decided she was just going to keep going and going and going, helping in the Nooksack food bank, the Everson Senior Center, her church, and she continued to make a difference to somebody everyday of her life, never complaining, never taking life for granted. Her life was anything but complacent.
Refuse to allow complacency to rule your life. The first step is awareness. Isn’t this one of the main purposes of Amos preaching to Israel, to make them aware of their complacency? They don’t even know they are complacent…
Two major sources of complacency: Too busy, or not busy enough. Both are problems in our society. The leaders of Israel thought they made it, living life without a care in the world. And that’s when complacency sets in. The poor had too much imposed on them.
A lesson on the book of Amos: Amos recorded words almost certainly are from sermons and prophecies over several years (or at least months), in multiple locations. Yet when it was organized by the Holy Spirit, it makes a complete whole. Some books of the bible are rich with lessons and application in every section, like the gospels. Then there are books like Romans in which many preachers in history have gone sentence by sentence and found deep meaning. Amos, to me, is single message. And so, when I consider a message like this today, the Cure for Complacency, the answer is scattered through-out the book. One answer is found at the end of the book, but because this will be the last message in 3-4 weeks from Amos, I only allude to it today. How do you cure complacency? Reclaim a vision of the future, imagine God restoring you to completion (Amos 9:11). Read through Amos and you might be tempted to put it aside as a negative message of doom and gloom, but go all the way to the end, and the prophecy ends with a vision of restoration, a message of hope and salvation. How do you cure complacency? Learn to see the better tomorrow, fill your heart with God’s promises, and know that the Lord is good.
Let’s look at a few more passages. The cure for complacency? Look at Amos 6:2-6. This is a simple cure. What does Amos say in this prophecy to get rid of complacency? Start caring about your neighbors! Look around, and grieve over those who are hurting. Yesterday I was at the Clothesline for a while and I talked to a woman from the community who has lived here for about a year with her husband. She said how impressed she was with how the churches were all working together to make a difference. I have no illusions that we are perfect, that some folks are overlooked, that we don’t have all wisdom, yet we are intentionally looking around us and attempting to provide help. The cure for complacency is to get outside of yourself and make a difference to others.
In ch. 4, the problem raised by Amos is that the people had become complacent by taking God for granted, so the cure for complacency is found in the next chapter: Develop a passion for God (Amos 5:4-6). Bill Bright said if you want to grow in your faith, study the character of God. To study God and who he is and what he is like is to know God. “Seek me and live," the prophet shouts. Overcome complacency by adopting disciplines that allow God to speak to you. You don’t come to church as a chore or a magic answer, but rather, the discipline of church, the discipline of prayer, and the discipline of reading the bible, are vehicles for the Lord to speak to you, use you, and show his love to you. God never stops loving us, but when we become depressed, angry, or complacent, we stop seeing God’s love.
Those who choose to live for God are constantly making that a conscious choice. The cure for complacency is to seek God. It is much easier to stay in bed, silence the noise of the prophets, feel sorry for yourself, pamper yourself, or accept your crummy circumstances and not do anything about it. The message spoken 2500 years ago by Amos, the pincher of sycamore figs, is still a cutting edge message: “seek the Lord and live.” Awareness of our need is the beginning of getting on with the life Christ wants us to lead. Purposefully getting out of our ruts takes discipline. Claiming a vision of a better future, of restoration, mending, start caring about those around you. And purposefully pursue the things of God.
As a pastor of a wonderful church in Sumas, Washington, my greatest desire is to see opportunities develop for people to explore the riches of serving God and loving God. Christianity, at its best, is not passively crossing your fingers hoping God does something transformative. Christianity is a deliberate decision to go after God, “As the Deer Panteth for the water, so my soul panteth after you.” My dog the border collie loves to chase balls, if I throw the ball for five minutes it only gets her started. Once in a while I have the patience to throw the ball for twenty minutes, and that is the only time I see her come in and lay on the ground with her whole body panting for breath and I swear she has a smile on her face. It takes energy and purposefulness to go after God.
This message is for those who are feeling complacent. Too busy. Not busy enough. Maybe you are feeling fatigued, bored, in a rut, or no purpose. Be aware of the problem. Imagine a better future. Look around and make a difference to others, because the problem is that you need more than yourself to care about… nd purposefully seek the Lord through the disciplines that will invite the Lord into your life. Complacency will rob your soul, learn to live for God.