Loving God in the Numb Times
In previous articles, we’ve talked about loving God in the hard times and loving God in the happy times. Today I want to talk about loving God in the numb times. In other words, what does it look like to love God and feel His presence in those times where we feel complacent as if nothing is really happening. What does it look like to seek after God when you feel nothing?
Imagine Jesus ascending up to Heaven after the resurrection. He just comes into the gates and suddenly tons of angels and saints of times gone by gather around Him. They ask Him, “Jesus, how did your mission trip to earth go? What kind of projects and plans did you arrange? Did you write any books? How was the attendance?” I imagine His response would be something like “I did a lot of things and occasionally there were big crowds, but I was more interested in the individuals. I was more interested in coming to people with no other agenda than to unite them in a personal way to my family, to realize each person as a unique child of God, to hear out their pains and desires, and to just love them. I didn’t focus on programs, numbers, and projects, I just wanted to show people the love of God.”
Our problem in modern, Americanized Christianity is that we make things into neat little formulas and we miss the point of what Jesus came here to do. We say to ourselves “all I have to do is take care of my family, make sure I support my kids and get them educated, be a decent person, give a little here and there, and show up to church an hour or two a week. The professional Christians will do the work for me with their crowds and their books, and their projects and programs.” No wonder love for God becomes so routine to us. We don’t treat Christianity as a relationship but as an insurance policy.
We put our traditions, personal interpretations, clothes, music, rhetoric, buildings, events, and programs on a pedestal. But that isn’t the mission. That isn’t what Christianity is about. Those things can sometimes be useful, but they are not the purpose of our faith. Those are just things that make us feel good about ourselves. They make us look like Christians when, in reality, we are dying. Whatever isn’t growing is getting closer and closer to death. We put our own laziness, comfort, and pride over Jesus and His mission. Of course, the natural result of this will be a sense of complacency.
It is impossible for us to be worthy of God’s love and grace. Scripture teaches that we are precious to God but our “righteous deeds” are filthy rags before the Lord. But all things are possible with God. Especially things that are impossible for man. God makes us worthy when we receive Him. But in our culture, it is more about the quantity than the quality. It is more about achieving goals in ourselves than it is about receiving grace from God alone. Scripture tells us that anything we do in this world is pointless without a belief in the Gospel and a love for God and His people. Matthew 7, John 17, 1 Corinthians 13, and Galatians 1 scream these truths at us, and the list goes on and on. If we are so focused on the things of this world that we become numb spiritually it is likely because we have neglected the true mission of Jesus and the importance of love, relationship, and the power of the Gospel. The word “disciple” means “follower.” Christian means “disciple of Christ.” If you are a Christian, but you are more concerned with your job, entertainment, sleep, money, school, and even your family than you are God, His people, and His mission, then are you really a “disciple of Christ”? Sure, people can abuse what I jsut said, but that doesn’t that the principle is untrue!
In Revelation, there are 7 churches that John writes to. All of these churches have different strengths and weaknesses because churches are made up of people, and people aren’t perfect. But most of the churches struggled with numbness and complacency to some degree or another. Sardis (Rev. 3:1-6) was told that they looked right, and some were in a right relationship to God, but many weren’t. And Jesus said that if the complacent ones who “looked” right didn’t change that He would write them out of His book of life. In other words, you aren’t really a Christian if you willingly remain numb. A Christian will have hills and valleys, seasons of growth and seasons where he/she is barely moving, but a Christian never stays a Christian if the individual is numb spiritually. Because being a Chrsitian is about relationship and relationships must be maintained.
So, what do we do if we are numb? What do we do if we feel like we are stuck spiritually? Do we do more work or just wait for something to change? No, not at all! Numbness isn’t cured by wishing it away. The cure for complacency is God’s work on your heart. It is supernatural! In Revelation 2:2-5 Jesus tells the church to cure this by “returning to your first love.” In other words, if all you have is a small amount of faith or an extra moment or two to spare, use whatever you have to remember what made you fall in love with God in the first place. And that love will grow from numbness to an unstoppable force by the power of God. You will see your life transform from numbness to zeal! Jesus said in Revelation 3:15-20 that He is constantly giving us an invitation to a powerful relationship and He is waiting for you to receive that invitation. We all have times that are low and times that are high. And we all have times that feel complacent. But complacency is one of Satan’s favorite weapons. It should never be a home for us, but a reminder of a need for change. A need to return to the love that brought us to Christ to begin with!
See Also: Loving God in the Happy Times