The audio here:
Sunday Sermon 29 November 2009
Complacency is a dangerous thing.
The dictionary defines Complacency as a feeling of uncritical satisfaction with oneself or one’s achievements 0r self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies
Being complacent means we stop being self aware – or generally aware. We stop looking. We stop learning. We stop being prepared.
One writer has said: 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.
A classic example of complacency is the Titanic. A ship built by man with the most up-to-date technology available and declared by man to be unsinkable. Such was the complacency of the ships invincibility they only had enough life boats for 33% of those on board – which happened to be enough all the first class passengers. Those in second, third or carriage class were not even told were the life boats were. Such complacency led to the loss of 1500 lives.
As Christians we are not to be complacent. We simply can’t.
Just look at ourselves. We know that if we are complacent with our flesh we will be in trouble. We know that when we relax, just for a moment, thing start to fall apart. We don’t go to church for a week or two, or perhaps take a short break from praying every day, or decide not to read the scriptures this week because we are busy and all of sudden a month, or two months or more go by where we have not been in church, or read scriptures or prayed.
Maybe there is a habit that we know we struggle with. And maybe one day we just stop battling it, or we give in just for one last time and all of a sudden we find ourselves immersed back in the habit fully and all the gains we might have made have been lost.
Each day we must make choices which are god centered, scripture centered and grounded in faith. If we think we are holy we will soon slip from that pedestal. Each day we must spend time with God – confessing our mistakes, seeking his Spirit to live in us so that we might walk in his ways.
And yet, many Christian’s I think have become complacent about the end times. I have often heard people say: “I can’t wait until the end of time”, or “I can’t wait for the Lord’s return.”
Really? Really? Are we really that ready to receive the arrival of the Lord of Glory who comes to judge the world, knowing our hearts and who will expose and lay bare publicly all that is in us! Are we ready for that?
The image of the end times in the Bible is not a pleasant one. The run up to, and the end times themselves do not involve a warm white light enveloping us in a sense of cosy security.
No. The scriptures tell us that the run up to the end times will be terrifying – to the point of social collapse.
Now before I go on, I need to clarify, what are the end times. Well, we are IN the last days now. The resurrection of Christ and his Ascension has happened. We are in the midst of the great commission to call the world to believe in Jesus. And we are 2000 years closer to that day when the Lord Jesus returns.
No-one knows WHEN the Lord will return. There is no date that can be discovered or worked out. Only the Father knows that time. But we are on the approach to those final days. As Paul said in his sermon two weeks ago, it may be 10 years, twenty years, 200 years in the future, or it could be this afternoon.
While we do not know the time when this will happen we are given instructions on what to look for and how we must act.
The apostle Paul gives us warnings about the last days in 2 Timothy 3. He says:
Understand this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 3:2 For people 2 will be lovers of themselves, 3 lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3:3 unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, savage, opposed to what is good, 3:4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, loving pleasure rather than loving God.
Are we still looking forward to the end times now?
As Christians we are told to be prepared, and to hold our nerve in the approach to the end times.
As Christians we are to be a people who UNDERSTAND what to expect as the last days grow nearer.
This is Jesus’ point in our Gospel reading this morning. We must understand the signs of the times, and we must respond rightly.
These end days will see people fainting from fear as society seems to collapse around them. The great cosmic battle which rages in the heavenly places out of sight for most of us now begin to break into view as the enemy’s last desperate stand against the inevitable defeat is about to take place.
But notice what Luke says our reaction should be: But when these things begin to happen standup and raise your heads because your redemption is drawing near.
We should not be the ones fainting from fear or cowering in a corner. No, we are to look up knowing that our redemption is coming near.
But in order for us to be able to do this we must be ready. We must know the signs of the times. We should be experts at discerning what is happening.
This means we should not be taken by surprise at the state of the world. We should not be shocked or alarmed as we see wars increase, or earthquakes and tsunamis and famines and plagues ravish the earth. As followers of the living God we have been told that this WILL happen – and that it is a sign of the end times. Yes we must be sad. Yes we must pray for those caught up in the tragic-ness of such events, but we must never be shocked. We know such things are coming. We know these are the signs of what is too come.
So what are we to do in the meantime?
If we were to read on just a little further in Luke we would read Jesus’ words:
But be on your guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day close down upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will overtake all who live on the face of the whole earth. But stay alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that must 85 happen, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
We are to be alert, active & praying. We must be preparing ourselves.
2 Peter 3 says this: But the day of the Lord will come like a thief; when it comes, 27 the heavens will disappear 28 with a horrific noise, 29 and the celestial bodies 30 will melt away 31 in a blaze, 32 and the earth and every deed done on it 33 will be laid bare. 34 3:11 Since all these things are to melt away 35 in this manner, 36 what sort of people must we 37 be, conducting our lives in holiness and godliness, 38 3:12 while waiting for and hastening 39 the coming of the day of God?
Along with being alert, active and praying we must be growing in our faith and in our walk with God. Conducting our lives in holiness and godliness. We must be so immersed in Jesus, so immersed in the Bible that we will not only be not deceived or become complacent, but that we will be able to look up and rejoice as we see our redemption draw near!
But just as important as being prepared ourselves, we must also be announcing this rescue to all people.
Surely we must be expending energy warning people of what is to come. We know the rescuer. Surely we MUST be telling people to trust in Jesus.
If we are truly aware of what is to come then that should spur within us a passion to bring as many people into the Kingdom of God as we can. We should be walking the decks of the sinking ship screaming for people to get into the life boats!
We know that not all people will accept the gospel – the road to destruction is wide and many follow it, Jesus says, but the road to eternal life is narrow and few find it. This tells us clearly that not all will accept the gospel. We must understand this. But yet our message must be constant to all – flee the judgment to come.
There is a very moving sermon on-line. It was preached the weekend after 9/11 by Carter Conlon a New York minister.
He recounts some of the stories of police men, firemen and others who were running towards the towers, running into the danger area, shouting to those in the streets to flee. Some of those police officers knew they might die but their sense of duty meant that they kept running towards the building shouting to people to run for their life.
Where is our sense of duty as believers as we look around at those who are oblivious of what is coming.
We know what is coming.
Are we running away from the conflict or are we running into the conflict shouting to people ‘run for your life – flee – run from the culture which ignores God – run from false gospels which ignore Jesus – run – run – run from ministers who glorify themselves and not Jesus Christ – run – run – run from practices or rituals which do not give the life of the spirit – run! Run from Churches that have no Bible or theology; that have no mention of sin, or the blood of Jesus, or repentence – run. Run for your life. Flee and run from all that is not of God.
Is this our message? Do WE NEED this message? Are we people who are running into the conflict knowing the signs of the times shouting to those in danger to flee to Jesus Christ? Surely if we truly understand what is to come, we CANNOT but be telling people to flee.
Let us not be complacent about the coming of the end of the age. Let us be active – let us be signs, mouthpieces, living examples of the gospel – that Jesus is calling all people to turn to him – to flee from the judgment to come, and run into Christ, where we will spend eternity.