"Today's Devotion" For January 10, 2006
Read: Luke 3:1-20; Isaiah 40:9-11; 27-31
GETTING ON TOP OF SPIRITUAL COMPLACENCY
"You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." (Luke 3:7-9)
Have you ever seen the movie, "Animal House?" It's a movie that stars the late John Belushi and focuses on the sophomoric antics of a fraternity house at a small, ostensibly Eastern college by the name of Faber College. The men of Belushi's fraternity are generally party animals, poorly focused, academically complacent, lousy students (with great abilities), and terribly anti-establishment which puts them in constant trouble with the college’s administration and the premier fraternity on campus. Belushi's fraternity gets itself placed on "double secret probation" for their antics and lack of academic achievement (not to speak of having their enemies out to get them). Their antics also have a profoundly negative effect on two pledges - freshmen who get hooked into the "Animal House" mentality.
Of course, the whole premise of the movie is that the boys of the "Animal House" are "cool" and the "enemy," the administration and the top fraternity are snobbish (the top "frat's" initiation includes some brutality and hazing) and "rotten," out to get the "cool" party guys of "Animal House." Yet, after one particularly gruesome "party" night, five drunken young men of "Animal House" are standing in front of the Dean of the College being confronted with their failing grades and bad behavior. One of the freshman pledges is drunk and the dean addresses him with these words, "Son, going through life, fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to get ahead." At which point the young man threw up all over him.
After having watched this movie a few times over the past twenty or so years since it came out, I can honestly say I've laughed with and rooted for the boys of "Animal House." They are incorrigible, uncouth, free-spirited, adventurous, lecherous, anti-establishment, and unconventional - for the most part everything I'm not. At the same time, they are also complacent about a good many things of importance, especially making use of the many blessings and opportunities God gives us. Of course there's no intent to have any type of theological theme in this movie, but all of life is theological because God is the One who gives us life and breath. In many ways, the description of "fat, drunk, and stupid" could be reasonably applied to us when we mire ourselves in complacency concerning our relationship with God and our witness for Jesus in this world.
That's precisely what John the Baptist was addressing when he spoke to the crowds of people coming to see him in the wilderness. In many ways Israel had become spiritually complacent. They looked for God to deliver them from the heavy hand of a foreign power when they were in desperate need of repentance and returning to God. John sounded as if he was a messenger of God. He dressed and lived as many of the prophets of Scripture had lived. Being hungry for spiritual sustenance but not knowing it when they saw and heard it, they went out to see John to cover their spiritual "rear ends." John knows this and calls them on it, calling them a "brood of vipers" and asking them, "Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" (i.e., God's final judgment for Sin).
How about you and me? Have we grown complacent about the things of God? Do we find ourselves excusing behavior that God tells us is contrary to His Will? Do we find ourselves complacent about our prayer life, our devotional life, taking the opportunities God gives us to share His love with others and witness for Christ, and reaching out to others in need? The danger in all of this is that if we, as the redeemed children of God through faith in Jesus Christ, have grown spiritually complacent who is going to let their "light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven" (Mt. 5:16)?
By God's grace, as His baptized children in Jesus Christ, we have the power to overcome such spiritual complacency and live our lives in and for Christ Jesus. We are empowered by God's Word and Spirit to touch the lives of others with His love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness. We are strengthened and encouraged in God Word and by His Spirit to live our lives actively involved in using every gift and blessing He has given us for His glory and for the benefit of others. Living such a God-blessed and God-filled life in Jesus doesn't leave room for spiritual complacency. Getting on top of spiritual complacency is part and parcel of life in Christ. Overcoming spiritual complacency we become true and certain witnesses of Christ's love and forgiveness and examples of what it means to have a sure and certain hope of eternal life in heaven.
Prayer: Father, it's all too easy to become spiritually complacent and live my life as a spiritually "fat, drunk, and stupid" member of the world's spiritual "Animal House." In so doing I lessen myself and fail as an example of what it means to be Your redeemed child in Jesus and a witness to Your love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness for all people everywhere. Forgive me, gracious Father, for Jesus' sake and help me to focus daily on Your Word and Your Will for my life. Fill me with the power of Your Word and Spirit so that I might overcome the temptation to be spiritually complacent and be filled with a sense of spiritual purpose and vocation in service to You and to others in Jesus' name. Let my life reflect Your grace, mercy, and love so that others might also be led to seek Your face and life with You. In Jesus' precious name I pray. Amen.
Copyright @2006 Rev. Richard J. Boeck, Jr. All rights reserved.