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As Good As It Gets?

Watch out for complacency.

Pitfalls for the Mind (2)

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3.20, 21

Too easily satisfied
A problem common to many Christians is that they become too easily satisfied with their experience of following Christ. They’ve found a good church, met some Christian friends, maybe joined a Bible study group or found a ministry niche, and perhaps devote some time to Bible reading and prayer. They are moved by a joyous service of worship or a strong message from the pulpit. They enjoy the times of fellowship and serving with other believers. Their lives as Christians are good, and they don’t want anything to change.

And that’s just the problem. Many Christians, having found a sweet spot for their discipleship, are of the opinion things just can’t get any better. They couldn’t be happier in their relationship with Jesus, and, since being happy in Jesus is, as they see it, the main objective of discipleship, they’re content to keep things just the way they are.

This translates into their state of mind as well. They become complacent about learning and indifferent to increasing in the mind of Christ. They’ve come to believe that their level of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom is good enough for them, and they see no need to exert themselves further. They’ve settled into a state of life and mind that’s good enough for them.

But if there’s one thing we can say about our Lord Jesus, it is that He was in the business of unsettling people. Wherever He went, He challenged settled ways of thinking, as well as the priorities, values, routines, commitments, worldviews, progress in faith, and agendas people had adopted. Even those who embraced His message and devoted themselves to His way, He refused to allow to settle into a comfortable life of just being happy with the state of their Christian existence. The apostles, in all their correspondence, urged their readers to grow, press on, add to, improve, increase, expand, enlarge, and do so more and more in every aspect of their walk with and work for the Lord.

And the primary reason why the apostles lived this way, and why they repeatedly worked to unsettle the saints and keep them on the growth curve toward the renewing of their minds and all their lives, is because they understood that, when it comes to following Jesus, life is never as good as it gets. There is always more righteousness, more peace, and more joy in the Spirit to know, and more love and truth to share, as long as we are willing to press on.

We don’t dare!
Paul was especially urgent about not becoming complacent, either in our thinking or living as followers of Jesus Christ. God is able to do exceedingly abundantly more in and for and through us than we have ever dared to ask or think! So why do we not realize this promised boon, any more than we do?

Because we do not dare to think it could be so, nor to ask that it might be so. In our thinking, we are stuck in our experience, satisfied with our progress and experience of faith, and scornful – and that’s the word, scornful – of the Lord’s promise of exceedingly abundantly more. Our Christian faith is as good as we need it, thank you very much, and we prefer to be left alone and not troubled with all that pressing on, striving for the goal for the prize of the upward calling, and other “legalistic-sounding” talk.

This complacency about the state of our Christian lives is the second pitfall to growing in the mind of Christ, in which we think, plan, live, and work according to our expectations for the life of faith, rather than the Lord’s. Jesus says, “more and more”; we say, “good enough.” Jesus says, “precious and very great promises”; we say “I’m good where I am.” Jesus says, “exceedingly abundantly above”; we say, “I’m OK, thanks.” We become slaves to our comfort, rather than servants of our conquering-and-to-conquer King. We dare not think any higher of our calling, or the possibilities for serving the Lord, because that seems too far beyond our experience. And while it undoubtedly is too far beyond our experience to imagine, plan for, and prepare for whatever that exceedingly abundantly more might be, it is not beyond the ability or the will of Him Who calls us to His Kingdom and glory (1 Thess. 2.12).

Minds in gear
The apostle Peter urged his readers to press on, to grow continually in the Lord and His Kingdom, and to add to everything they’d ever experienced in the Lord, more and more and more. And he said that, if they were going to do this, they’d have to gird up their minds for action, be obedient to their calling, and press on toward holiness in mind and life (2 Pet. 1.5-11; 1 Pet. 1.13-16).

Escaping the pitfall of complacency begins with hearing God in His Word and world, and telling ourselves, every day, that it’s never as good as it gets when it comes to knowing and following Jesus. We must build into our thinking an expectation of growth, an alertness to opportunities for service, a readiness to bear witness, and an eagerness to improve in the mind of Christ for every area of our lives. And we must apply ourselves to furnishing our minds with new insights, greater knowledge, and deeper understanding of our great salvation.

Only as we think about how we might increase in the Lord and His service will we dare to ask the Lord to make it so. As we grow in the mind of Christ, to understand and appreciate the greatness of His power, and His resolute determination to reconcile all things to God and to restore His goodness in the land of the living – only as we grow to think about our lives like this, will we think, ask, plan, learn, and endeavor to realize the exceedingly abundantly more of the life of faith which God has in store for us.

And we will never say that our Christian life is as good as it gets, because, seen from the vantage point of the mind of Christ, it never is.

For reflection
1.  Why do you think Christians become so easily satisfied with their experience of the Lord?

2.  How might you be able to tell when a “good as it gets” mentality is beginning to infect your thinking about the life of faith?

3.  Suggest some ways Christians can help one another avoid and overcome the pitfall of complacency in faith.

Next steps – Transformation: Can you think of any area of your life where you have become complacent about improving in your walk with or work for the Lord? What’s one thing you could do to begin overcoming that complacency?

T. M. Moore

Our book, Such a Great Salvation, can help you think and ask more of the Lord for your walk with and work for Him. Order your free copy by clicking here.

All the installments in this “Strong Souls” series are available in PDF by clicking here

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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