From Complacency To Zeal

Complacency: self-satisfaction accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies

Zeal: eagerness and ardent interest in pursuit of something.

Life is strange. We all put on a front and go about life with fake confidence, but none of us really know much about life. It’s so hard to understand and I think it’s impossible. We can learn and experiment and scientists can explain everything in detail, but at the end of the day, everyone is at a loss for words.

Since the beginning of time, man has looked into the heavens and stared into the beauty of the moon and stars and planets and wondered. We’ve all looked at the sunsets and wondered. We see a budding flower and we don’t argue, we just accept and we look in awe. Because life is and life exists and there’s nothing else to say. You either accept this or ignore it and then you move on. Fueled by our desire to exist, we work to preserve. We have created nations, cultures, markets and politics, and we operate in these realms; and we wake up every morning and do man-made life.

The natural world of grass, beaches, canyons, stars and trees is a mystery that is unexplainable. I think because facing the mystery of the natural life means realizing we are all helpless, we ignore responsibility and just delve into man-made realms and sort to ignore the fact that none of us really know what’s going on. So, this focus on man and the products of man have been handed down and it has intensified in recent years. It seems now that instead of growing up in a family where one might focus on real life and the mysteries of life and think about a world outside self and look into a world created, the family is gathered around the big-screen watching Jackass or Survivor.

From my view, it seems that the attention of our American civilization is on consumerism and materialism. And I really don’t have anything against having stuff or crashing on the couch watching television. But now, we have the ability to ignore natural life and focus on man-made life and the world of computers, television, music, cars, fast food, iPods and DVDs. In fact, we’re gorging ourselves on it. We don’t have to face reality and we don’t ever have to be reminded of it. I think this is dangerous because real life forces us to deal with our crap and admit our helplessness in the face of eternity. This utter helplessness points us to our need for a savior. Thus, gorging ourselves on the junk food of man-made life leads us to complacency. We’re somewhat satisfied with, or at least addicted to, this materialism and we become unaware of eternity, heaven, hell, God and the realities of actual living.

There is no zeal in pop-culture. There’s no substantive passion. It’s all very shallow. Society has evolved and it obviously won’t drive Christian spirituality into extinction, but it does change the way Christians relate to a world that’s saturated in sensationalism. This leaves Christians with the question: how do we respond? I think it’s important to note that the Christian community can, too, fall into the trap of shallow culture. That’s something to be avoided, lest we look identical to a world that doesn’t know God.

Our calling hasn’t changed, but the definition of being Christians in America has changed. American culture can no longer be called Christian and American society is no longer Christianized. Christians are no longer at home in America. We are to be missional. We shouldn’t head for the hills, decrying godlessness. We should dive into culture. Just as the early church became active within the Roman Empire, while recognizing their status as strangers and aliens in the world, we should be zealous missionaries in American media, politics and its culture, while remembering our future union with Christ.

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[Kyle Williams is a young man who strives to be missional in Guthrie, Okla. He’ll read your letter if you e-mail him at [email protected].]

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