The trappings of humanity are caused by complacency, more than ignorance can be blamed. A nation is more vulnerable at the point of having achieved greater success. A nation in turmoil can be viewed as deserving criticism, but there is more hope in a nation with challenges than the one without problems. We live in a world where nations rise and wane.
The Roman Empire is considered to have been the most enduring, in modern history until they were jolted by the Barbarians in 476 AD. This led to the eventual demise of an Empire that had been considered indomitable. The reason for experiencing that embarrassing episode is a failure to understand the dynamics of life, due to complacency. The Barbarians could not have been considered capable of posing a challenge until the moment of reckoning came to be.
Regardless of endurance, everything came to nought, for the Romans, at the point of losing the Empire. Even the descendants of the most powerful Emperors are currently as ordinary as any of us. From this, we can extrapolate lessons from the demise of an apparently indomitable Empire, due to complacency.
This world is awash with business enterprises that were formally bustling in prosperity but which have since come to oblivion. It is commonly an aspect of arrogance that causes an individual, or an organization not to consider new ideas. Complacency implies that when successful, one would forever be successful. This is the viewpoint that cost a rich young man, whose attachment to wealth was deep, to miss out on God’s Kingdom:
Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honour your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbour as yourself.’” “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. (Matthew 19:16-22 NIV).
This is another typical example of complacency, which suggests that there would be security in physical possessions. The rich young man did not envisage that anything could take away his then comfortable lifestyle. He did not even imagine the possibility of losing his physical life. This is how blinding complacency can be, to humanity.
Pride, blinding a person against perceiving his complacency, is always at the centre of complacency. Many people live under the folly of assuming that they would live forever, in this world. Surprisingly, such people would have observed the demise of their loved ones.
Instead of picking up lessons from that reality, the complacent people continue in the assumption that their fate would be different. The reason for the rich young man to reject the offer of God’s Kingdom was the assumption of a different fate for him.
In his state of complacency, he thought that his riches would be allowed in God’s Kingdom. He identified himself as one who could not be separated from his riches. This life is a net of what remains of those having lived before us, as long as copying their lifestyles.
Those were the people who had goals and ambitions. But, as such people would no longer be there, most people tend to also focus on the goals that such people aimed for. Others may be privileged to know their aspirations and ambitions, as to continue from where they left off.
The aim of every human being is to live a better life. This is different from those aiming at making others live better lives. A person who aims at living a better life, in this world, loses at the point of attaining satisfaction. It is that satisfaction that leads to complacency.
And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:16-21 NIV).
The idea of accumulating wealth appears innocent, as suggesting wisdom in storing things for oneself. The product of complacency is the idea that one would have achieved his destiny. Even if God had not demanded his life, the rich fool could have squandered everything foolishly to please his ego.
When doing well in life, the person sits in the comfort of being blessed but forgetting the dangers of complacency. Nothing serves, as long as one seeking to correct the mistakes of the past, may also succumb to complacency. The behaviour of complacency is endemic.
The only way to avoid the malady is to focus on serving other people, rather than serving yourself. The question ought to always be; how can I be of service to other people? That mindset alone; portrays the will of God. The rich young man who despised God’s Kingdom died, like everyone else.
One may die without possessions to show for having lived in this world. The rich person may die, leaving behind sufficient inheritance for his children. The only difference displayed at the time of the burial of a rich person is the casket in which he would be interred.
Both men would soon be forgotten about. This is different from the one who would have been of service to other people. The New Testament Bible shows an episode of the services of a certain woman named Dorcas.
In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor. About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!” Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.
Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive. This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord (Acts 9:36-42 NIV).
Most people assume that their current wealth would serve them from future disasters. Life is a journey, whose destiny is unpredictable. The idea of complacency gives the impression that all is well. Until the person realizes that nothing would be well, after all, at the point of death.
In Zimbabwe we bought several insurance covers that made us feel comfortable, assuming the future was secure. But, life came to be what the entire nation never expected. We lost everything, as most of those of my age live without pensions, to sustain their old age.
The best an old person can do, in the remainder of his life, is to share these experiences with the younger generation. Hopefully, the younger generation learns from elder people’s experiences. Hope is possible, only when in a despicable condition. Nothing remains to hope for when living comfortably.
A person might have received the truth, enabling him/her to understand marvellous things that others might not be privileged with. There is freedom in truth so that the person might be living a comfortable lifestyle. It is at that point that complacency creeps in.
“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich, and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness, and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see” (Revelation 3:14-18 NIV).
The above passage shows that the cold ones are not in danger, but the lukewarm ones. This suggests that people who are complacent, assume that wealth saves. Such Scriptures are a blessing to true believers. There is freedom in truth, yet there is also danger in being complacent in freedom.
No one has ever reached the level of success, accomplished by Jesus, who gave us the lesson on avoiding complacency. Jesus was the most successful individual who ever lived on this planet. But he surrendered everything, choosing to die on the cross, instead.
Jesus remains dominant, even after approximately two thousand years of His departure. Unknowingly, many people remain stuck on His death at the cross. But no one could be talking about a dead person, who is currently worshipped throughout the world. There was no room for complacency with Jesus, who died on our behalf.
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Philippians 2:5-10 NIV).
Commendably, there are great preachers in this world, today. There is truth in that many people testify of having been brought to Christ, through the services of spiritually powerful personalities. However, this is where the danger of complacency secretly comes. To avoid complacency, success should not invite celebration.
Spiritual blessings, inviting ordinary people’s adulations should not be celebrated by the truthful men of God. Such adulations should serve as signals for the danger of complacency ahead. The only time that a Christian should celebrate and rejoice in this world, is when receiving persecutions. Jesus was very clear on that assertion.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for, in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12 NIV)
Bear in mind that a Christian is the one who would have committed everything to follow Christ (Luke 14:25-33). Complacency is the only limiting factor that those of this world may still be struggling to appreciate. Good things of this world, in whatever form, can serve as a hindrance to God’s Kingdom. Christ said it is impossible for one to be His follower, as long as unwilling to surrender everything.
Sadly, there are some people who remain stubborn, even after having received such warnings. The warmth that comes with adulations from one’s admirers is highly deceptive. God’s work requires a high sense of vigilance. The enemies of a Christian are not flesh and blood. The only open window for the enemy of the true Men of God, leading to Satan’s invasion is complacency.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope.
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