The Dangers of Settling

The Dangers of Settling: 

Hindering the Mission of the Church

“There is no passion to be found playing small—in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
Nelson Mandela

“If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is compromise.”
Robert Fritz

“One day you will wake up and be so glad you did not settle. You will be so glad you did not give up. You will be so glad you did not sync yourself to someone else’s pace and you chose instead to anchor yourself in the steady rhythm of grace.”
Morgan Harper Nichols

In our previous blog, Embracing Kingdom Culture, we addressed facing an ongoing battle to avoid getting entangled in endless cultural conflicts that distract us from living out our faith and sharing the Gospel. Though sincere zeal may motivate some disputes over social issues, such quarrels often lead Christians to misplace their focus and forsake Kingdom priorities. When ensnared in heated debates over non-essential matters, we risk compromising our supreme purpose; to accurately represent Jesus to the world around us. Therefore, it becomes paramount to remember that our identity stems from what we wholeheartedly endorse rather than what we oppose. We must be vigilant to stay rooted in Kingdom principles instead of getting wrapped up in the ideological clashes of a relativistic culture. Our calling remains to bring redemption through salvation in Christ, not waging hostile crusades to prove a point. We can stand firmly in God’s truth yet still convey that perspective with Christlike grace and humility.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to a life of purpose, one focused on building God’s Kingdom by making disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20). However, the temptation often arises to become complacent and settle into a comfortable Christian bubble, disconnected from the spiritual vitality required to effectively advance the very mission that Christ has entrusted His Church. When our attention shifts from pursuing Kingdom priorities to defending the status quo or our own interests, we surrender spiritual ground; instead of operating as a base from which to launch apostolic initiatives, the church stagnates and loses vision, momentum, and empowerment from the Holy Spirit. If the local body fails to maintain an outward-looking mentality, penetrating society as salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16), we fail to uphold our God-given identity. Settling into an isolated, inward-focused Christian culture severely diminishes our Kingdom-effectiveness and gospel witness. When our focus narrows primarily on maintaining current church structures and echoing prevailing cultural norms, we risk severely diminishing our spiritual vitality, stunting our growth, and hindering the fulfillment of God’s redemptive plan on earth.

The Call to Seek First God’s Kingdom
In Matthew 6:33, Jesus plainly instructs us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (ESV), aware of the numerous temptations and distractions of this world that would confront followers, Jesus confronted the tendency towards complacency and settling among God’s people throughout His ministry. John poignantly echoes this call in his message to the church in Laodicea: “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:15-16, ESV). Though on the surface the Laodicean church appeared successful and prosperous, their self-reliance and comfort led to complacency, completely diverting their focus from God’s priorities. We must heed God’s sober warning not to slip into this state of “lukewarmness” which manifests itself when we simply go through the motions of Christianity without any passion for advancing the Kingdom. Settling for anything less than radical obedience neuters the church’s transformative impact on the world. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “A lack of obedience is perhaps Christianity’s most blatant failure over the past few decades...What we call religious life today is merely a way of keeping us from faithfulness. Faithfulness demands obedience.”

Guarding Against an Inward Focus
Proverbs 6:10-11 (ESV) “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.” One critical area we must guard our hearts against is the subtle drift toward an inward focus on the health of our local congregations rather than the expansion of God’s global Kingdom. Church growth strategist Peter Scazzero notes that unhealthy churches are preoccupied with “navel gazing” while healthy churches have an outward focus on their neighborhoods and reaching new people. Though strengthening our local bodies is important, this must not supplant participating in the Great Commission. The early churches flourished with an external focus, living out their faith boldly through acts of service. We read in Acts 2:42-47 that the first church was “praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (v47, ESV). Do our churches today have this magnetic quality? Do we wholeheartedly embrace Kingdom vision flowing from Scriptural truth or unconsciously adopt watered-down spiritual platitudes reframed to neatly fit our own preconceived notions and personal preferences?
As the body of Christ, we are called to be the salt of the earth and light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16), pointing others to Jesus through good deeds and declaring the hope within us. Amidst a spiritually lost and broken world, an inward focus that seeks self-preservation above else is unconscionable. Tragically, many individual believers and churches gradually exchange their first love and passion for Christ (Revelation 2:4) for rigid legalism devoid of His presence and joy in the daily walk, or perhaps even worse, drift into lifeless religion that maintains a thin outward veneer of godliness while subtly embracing worldly attitudes and perspectives disconnected from wholehearted submission to God. Rather than cultivating intimacy with Jesus through the Word and Spirit as the primary lifeline of the Christian faith, we easily slip into comfortable routines that unwittingly quench the Holy Spirit’s voice and direction. Over time, we become numb to His conviction prompting course corrections when we veer towards selfish attitudes or unbiblical reactions unbecoming of our witness and calling to honor Christ. Soon patterns cement and behaviors once deemed inappropriate or excessive gradually feel normal and acceptable as we rationalize sinful responses contrary to the way of Jesus. Seared consciences dismiss the gravity of greed, anger, immorality, deception, and exploitation (1 Timothy 4:2), increasingly reflecting the world’s twisted standards rather than God’s truth and design with little distinction between saint and sinner. What we tolerate soon becomes embedded and extremely difficult to root out. Such drifting into complacency fails to happen suddenly, rather through incremental drifting from steadfast moorings in God’s eternal truth. Restoring passion and spiritual integrity after a prolonged disconnect from intimate fellowship with Christ often necessitates an extended season of consecrated submission to His refining fire (Isaiah 64:5-8).

Cultivating the Great Commission
The very heart of God is one of seeking and saving the lost. In Ezekiel 34:16, God promises, “I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak,” (ESV). Jesus models this during his earthly ministry, intensely focused on those separated from God’s Kingdom. The gospel accounts portray His heart of compassion that compelled Him to heal the hurting, dine with outcasts and sinners, and ultimately suffer an excruciating death to redeem mankind. As imitators of Christ, we must ask God to cultivate within us this same heart of compassion for the unsaved. William Booth captures this sentiment, “Not called!' did you say? ‘Not heard the call,’ I think you should say. Put your ear down to the Bible, and hear Him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin.” Amid the busyness and pressures of life, it is dangerously easy to become numb to the spiritual needs around us. We must fight this tendency, intentionally nurturing compassion for those living apart from God. As His final charge to His followers, Jesus commanded His church to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, ESV). This commission is not merely about convert decisions or church attendance but rather about wholehearted, obedient followers of Christ.

Activating and Equipping the Priesthood of All Believers
Christ’s model of discipleship stems from the biblical truth that every Christian serves as a priest with direct access to God (1 Peter 2:9) and a mandate to advance His Kingdom. Ministry belongs not to an elite class of professionals but to the entire body of believers. Ephesians 4 indicates that the primary purpose of church leaders is to “equip the saints for the work of ministry” (v12, ESV). However, so often in practice, we slip into a spectator mentality where discipleship and ministry are delegated to church staff while the congregation adopts a passive role. Imagine if every Christian saw themselves as an equipped, vital agent in advancing God’s Kingdom! For more on this, read our previous blog Biblical Leadership Characteristics.
Fulfilling Christ’s global mission requires more than utilizing the gifts of those currently in our chairs. We must instill Kingdom DNA across generations and intentional discipleship of young and mature believers alike. It requires developing future leaders, not just filling volunteer roles. Across every ministry, we must imprint values of radical sacrifice to propel the Kingdom’s advance. Participating in the Great Commission is not an optional human endeavor but integral to the very identity of the church through the ages. Jesus’ plea in Matthew 9 still stands—the lost are waiting to be found, yet the workers remain few. Settling for comfortable Christianity severely hinders our participation. Only through relying on the Spirit, cultivating Kingdom values, and embracing sacrificial sufferings can we wholeheartedly embrace this task.

Fellow believers, as we reflect on our walk with Christ, let us prayerfully examine our hearts and lives to see if complacency has dulled our devotion. Do not allow comforts of this world to quench the fire of your first love or distract you from Kingdom priorities. Instead, anchor yourself afresh to God’s grace which strengthens us to live boldly as disciples of Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit to impact this lost world. Let us actively seek the refining fire of God to purify our hearts and prepare us for greater works. Steward each moment wisely, discerning the unique missions God has prepared for each of us. Church, rise up with renewed passion, courageously resisting anything that compromises our witness. With obedience and united prayer, let us further His Kingdom to the ends of the earth, compelled forward by this glorious and urgent cause. As we fix our eyes on our unstoppable King, may He multiply laborers fully devoted to advancing His redemptive work! Hebrews 2:1 (ESV): “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”

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