A few years ago, I watched a History Channel special on the Legend of Robin Hood. According to the program, Robin Hood lived in the 12th century; however, his adventures did not appear in any record before the 14th or 15th Century – and those stories originated from folklore and musical ditties. Nonetheless, at the end of the program, the narrator said, “The further away history moves from the events that validated Robin Hood’s life, the easier it is to question whether he ever existed.”
I was seven years old when I understood the gospel and became a Christian. To this day, I can remember the joy and elation I felt knowing that I was a believer. For decades, I listened to hundreds of sermons, read my Bible numerous times, obtained a degree in theology, and counseled and discipled others. Even so, that same joy from my childhood has diminished. I am not saying that I have lost my faith, nor have I stopped loving the Lord. I am saying that the longer the years move past my original commitment, the simpler the flame of my faith glows.
I was in danger of falling into complacency. A complacent spirit blinds you to any defect in your life and dampens any desire to progress. I liken it to lazy faith. I noticed my dull spirit the other day when I heard the testimony of a new believer. Some would characterize her enthusiasm as being, “On fire for the Lord,” while unbelievers would call her excitement, wacky. Despite that, there was something so genuine, sweet, and endearing to her testimony that it simply brought me to tears. It was as if she was falling in love for the first time.
I drove home from church that day wondering why I no longer felt that way. Although God had not changed over my lifetime, my desire to grow and to seek his face waned. I even allowed the repetition of Bible reading to excuse my glossing over the words. Life and all its disappointments, trials, and suffering had dampened my flame of love.
A few days later, I had lunch with a friend. During that time, we shared what books we were reading and found that we were both entrenched in accounts about Christian martyrdom. Of course, we wondered if we would deny the faith if subjected to brutal torture. Those thoughts lead me to examine my heart.
In his sermon, “To Know Him,” (linked here) Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones, former pastor of the Westminster Chapel in London, says, “We no longer examine ourselves. We are content to listen to the truth, and we may even feel a disturbance, but we let it go. We are satisfied with surface convictions, but we never get down to it! The way to test our spirituality is by its depth. Self-examination is not popular nowadays, but Scripture calls us to test and prove ourselves. Someone who examines himself should be alarmed, which should lead us to God and prayer.” (Paraphrased)
A heart check should bring us back to why we became believers in the first place. Joy came because we were relieved of our guilt. Jesus’ death on our behalf eliminated our debt to God and now covers us from God’s wrath. Because of Christ’s death, we can now boldly approach the throne of God and have intimate fellowship with him. If we re-evaluate that concept alone, we should repent of our lackluster faith and restore our hearts to gratitude. How can we even think any of that is not deserving of more commitment?
Pray that God will blow on the embers of your heart, and help us to rise out of our complacency.
Psalm 51:10-13, 15 says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence and do not take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will be converted to you… O Lord, open my lips, that my mouth may declare your praise.” (NASB)