June 23, 2015

Frozen: Complacency of the Indifferent

Life has a way of layering itself in disappointments. Expectations unmet. Hopes shattered. Dreams foregone. I’ve learned to stop placing expectations, hopes and dreams in the things of this world or systems of this world. I’ve learned that the world will always let you down. Why? Because when we care for things more our level of expectations are that much higher for them.

If we have high expectations of outcomes...our outcomes always need to be lofty. We over build people expecting something equaling God...and we are inevitability let down. So when failure eventually arrives like the hour hand reaches 12 o’clock twice a day, so too trial will revisit us in our lives. You will face-plant into the ground regardless of whom you deal with or no matter the situation. The truth is you only want the best for those closest to you but it seems the letdowns are that much more painful when they are people you hold more dearly.

We think trying harder will fix problems but in reality, the intensity and desire to fix often makes things drastically worse. The first rule of holes is: Once you're in them, stop digging. It turns into a neurosis of sorts. Instead I see the smart people loosening their grip. To survive I’ve seen people relinquish their expectations. To get along I’ve seen people waive their right to be offended. To help others in their suffering I’ve seen people give up their dreams. To help those disabled by sin and brokenness I’ve seen people pass by the easy path to the road less traveled. To right wrongs I’ve seen people forsake superficial and posturing love and wait on deeper, profounder mysterious love.

…and they do it with no expectation of reciprocity.

In these everyday surrenders of will and acts of selflessness…I see holy God. I see Jesus. The problem is, I see too little of it in self-described Christians and affluent American churches (even in myself). I’ve seen it half the time, half the time not. If it is there it is hidden from view. Perhaps the veiled nature of it is intentional. Perhaps it is humility…but I suspect not. The Bible tells us that charitable acts and behavior are not to be done to draw attention to one’s self in self-aggrandizing fake self-sacrifice. Still, I see a conspicuous absence of it because I purposely look for it where I would expect to find it…an often it just isn’t there to be seen.

This seems to suggest a few things to me. Those not surrendering have not reached that place or state of existence where expectations remain unmet and remain unattainable. They have not had hopes smashed against the rocks of a stormy life. They have not been required to forego their dreams to help others realize theirs. If any of these things had happened to them…I would be seeing more mercy in them. I would see more grace. I would see the grace of God in more people’s actions but I don’t. I see many whose hearts have grown cold. I see complacency bred by a sense of entitlement and expectations that have constantly been realized. I see dispositions that have become hardened to the world. I see the jaded end result of getting what you want, when you want it, where you want it. I see materially over-indulged people and they are spiritually starved.

I don’t see persecution. You know old adage, “The church was built on the blood of the martyrs.” This is sort of ironic coming from an institution that is often quick to jump on the “persecution complex” train. No, I tend to seem more of the opposite. If the early church was indeed built on the blood of the martyrs, then the modern church is deteriorating in the complacency of the indifferent. I am guilty of it to some extent too. What I will say is I am not as guilty of it as I’ve been in the past, but guilty. I suppose we are all on a continuum of sin guilt in this matter but lately it seems that too many are on the anchor side dragging down the entire church like ballast. It isn’t just a lack of charity and mercy either. It is the sum product of a cold heart. A cold heart formed by lack of the warmth provided by Scripture. The more people have removed themselves from the warmth of the word and communion with God the farther they have drifted from the fire of truth.

The church doesn’t necessarily need bad theology to gut it, it only needs a cold heart. As Revelation 3 said about the Laodicean church, it doesn’t even need to be a cold heart… it only needs to be lukewarm to be detrimental to the Church. Sometimes the enemy of good theology isn’t just bad theology…it ends up being little or no-theology at all. Many in church are becoming pseudo-theological or atheological. Not atheistic mind you but either partially theologically correct or against theology. They wish to talk about God but what they really talk about is a god not described in Scripture. They believe they speak of the real God but with no Scriptural support to go on they create a fallacious facsimile which is merely pieced together secondhand information. A “hand-me-down” God built from hearsay and heresy. The god built by an theological game of “passing it down the line”. A god built on godless gossip instead of the Gospel.

Yes, you read that correctly: Pseudo-theological, atheological or not theological at all. They’re merely in church for a feeling or emotion. They’re in it for what it does for them. Like accouterments. A fashion accessory. Doctrinal paraphernalia in appearance but devoid of Christ.  The end product? A cold heart devoid of Scripture or Scriptural truth. Like I said, atheological.

If these people had actually read Scripture and embodied it I would see the relinquishing of their expectations. I would see people who would be willing to waive their right to be offended. I would see people willing to give up their dreams. I would see people willing to forsake a superficial and posturing love and wait on deeper, profounder affections that come from the mysterious love or mercy and grace. Where are these people within the Church? I see so few. I often fear I am not one of them at times. It obviously begs the question: How much of the Church is really the Church? I suspect not much of it.

The absence of the Bible in people shows in both their thought and actions (or lack thereof). There is life and truth of Scripture. There is warmth of mercy and grace in Scripture. A kind-heartedness. A sincerity. A tenderness that is missing nowadays. In its place an unwillingness reluctance to act. A distance from both men and God. Many have had it too easy for too long and it isn’t just wearing at the edges of the church…its now disemboweling it.

It’s cutting out its heart. It is replacing a heart of flesh with heart of stone.

Matthew 24:10-12 ~ “And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold”

I am seeing just the opposite of what God said the Spirit of God would do with the hearts of the people.

Ezekiel 11:19 ~ “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.”

Ezekiel 36:26 ~ “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. “

This also begs a question: Where is this heart of stone coming from? Honestly, I think we all know the answer to that question.

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