Summary: We, as Christians, need to fight complacency and follow Christ with everything we have.
Open with clip from The Patriot
During a memorial service, Gabriel makes an announcement to enlist men in the South Carolina militia. However King George was the one who ordered the hanging of the men being memorialized, trying to set an example to the rest of the colonists-and it worked. When Gabriel asks the men to get out of their pews and go fight for their freedom, no one responds. Disgusted by the men’s hypocrisy, Annie Howard stands up and challenges them to act on the beliefs she’s heard them speak about so strongly. (Fields, Doug and Eddie James. Videos That Teach 2. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2002. Pg. 138)
Often people will make the comment that actions speak much louder than words. In this movie clip this comment is definitely true. The men in the church were men who had complained about the British control over America. They wanted the nation to fight for freedom so that America was a country of its own. They despised King George and didn’t want anything to do with him. But why then, when it came down to it did these men resist signing up for the war? The war and the freedom it could accomplish was what they said they wanted!
Their actions were saying, “We don’t really care that much about freedom.” These men were scared and they felt insignificant. They wanted somebody else to bring about what they knew needed to happen. As long as they were comfortable and safe while someone else was fighting for the freedom they wanted, they were ok.
Today, as I look at my life and the lives of other Christians around me I have reached the conclusion that most Christian’s actions are speaking much louder than their words, especially in America. We have lost touch with who God really is. 10 minutes ago we sang out, “Better is one day in Your courts,” and, “I could sing of Your love forever.” How many people in this room proclaim these things outside of church? How many people in this room believe in Heaven and Hell? All too often we profess a belief in Hell but yet we sit back and watch our friends and families go there. All too often we profess a belief in Heaven but yet live our lives chasing after money, popularity, boys, girls, or material things. How many people here believe that Jesus is the way the truth and life and that no one comes to the Father except through him? Yet all too often we are too scared to hurt a friend’s feelings or feel intolerant when we are confronted with the idea of telling friends about Christ.
What is even worse than the fact that our actions don’t back what we say is the fact that we have become comfortable with that. A while ago at my church, we talked about going against the current of the world. To start off the night I had everyone get up and start running in a circle around our sanctuary. Once they had the circle going, I had the smallest 7th grade guy that was there, turn around and run the opposite direction. He started getting pushed and checked, he was trampled for a little bit, and eventually he was being picked up and carried by the group going the opposite way. After a while he stopped trying and gave in. This is often how we respond to the world as we try to live the way God wants us to. We have gotten tired of being different and going against the grain so at some point many of us have just given in and stopped trying. We have become dry and we have given up in our relationships with God. This is called complacency and it is overflowing in Christians today.
The scripture that I want to look at tonight is an amazing story and it can blow your mind if you try to visualize it as we read it. I think this passage gives a great description of the complacency in Christians today but I think it also gives us hope and challenge by showing us what God wants to do with us. I encourage you to open your Bibles to Ezekiel 37:1-14
In this passage, we meet Ezekiel right after he has told the Israelites that they needed to be restored by God. The Israelite people had forgotten about God, as they have done many times throughout the Bible, but worse yet, they had become complacent. Ezekiel 36:17 tells us that as God speaks to Ezekiel, “Son of man, when the people of Israel were living in their own land, they defiled it by their conduct and their actions. Their conduct was like a woman’s monthly uncleanness in my sight.” Now, half of you right now are saying, “Ughh” right now in your heads. The other half of you, most likely the younger guys, are going, “What?” If you don’t get what that second part of the verse means go ask Ethan after the service. No, Ethan doesn’t deserve that, if you don’t understand that talk to your Mom later on.