There is no doubt that our country is in a fair bit of turmoil right now. The economy, healthcare, terrorism–all of these things weigh heavily on people’s minds. It’s not the first time that we have faced adversity as a nation, and it sure won’t be the last.
The Sunday after the events of September 11, 2001, I preached a message entitled “What Next?” I’m sure that many who saw the title before the service thought that I would be preaching on the End Times, or perhaps that I thought Osama Bin Laden was the Anti-Christ (I didn’t). Instead, I asked the question of those in near-record attendance: where will you be next Sunday? You’re praying a lot now, perhaps, but how will your prayer life be a month from now? A year? We have a tendency to rally around the throne of God when times are tough, but when things are going well we neglect our relationship with Him.
In Deuteronomy, we see Moses warning the Israelites not to take God for granted. He cautions them to “beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today; otherwise, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Deut. 8:11-14). It was very easy to forget the need to depend on God during times of prosperity and peace. This parallels our own modern behavior.
I was in college during the time of Desert Storm. It was amazing to me how many people suddenly began praying—even on a college campus which, in the case of my alma mater, was not the pinnacle of Christian faith and practice. What was equally amazing was how quickly people stopped praying. Where only days or weeks before groups were getting together in dorm rooms, frat houses, even the IHOP down the street to pray for our nation, there swiftly returned a spiritual lethargy and complacency that returned everyone to the spiritual status quo—a dangerous place to be.
Why is the spiritual status quo dangerous? Because it is a place of comfort. When we become comfortable, we let things slide. I haven’t done research on this so it’s just a theory, but I believe the reason why most accidents occur with a couple of miles of a person’s home is because they become to relaxed: they’re almost home, and they’re thinking about dinner, or playing with the kids. Possibly, they’re on their way out, and are thinking about their destination or the people they’ll see. They let their guard down because they are in the most familiar location of their lives, and then tragedy strikes. When we set the spiritual cruise control, we get comfortable and forget just how desperately we need God.
Moses continued with a dire warning: “It shall come about if you ever forget the Lord your God and go after other Gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you will surely perish. Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so you shall perish; because you would not listen to the voice of the Lord your God” (Deut. 8:19-20).
The price for spiritual complacency is high: judgment, just as God judges all those who rebel against Him. One of the greatest tragedies in this life is that we cut ourselves off from the power that sustains us. The abundant life promised by Christ (John 10:10b) is only available by remembering the Source of our strength.