This is the third of three “Letters” I am posting this week so that I/we can catch up with Pastor De Bruyn. Next week, I will begin posting my own material again, as we prepare for the next session in our teaching series (2/24).

The title is not mine but comes from a series of articles I discovered late last year. While reading through the “Letters to Stagnant Christians,” I found them both convicting and insightful. The author, David De Bruyn, is a Reformed Baptist pastor in South Africa. Though the context in which he ministers might seem a world away, his “letters” prove that the same spiritual struggles stymie Christian growth and maturity across ethnic, national, and cultural boundaries.

I will repost these letters as long as he continues writing them. Here is a sample of the eleventh, followed by a link to the original article:

Dear Martha,

I’m sure you have read the the proverbs that speak of “lions in the street”

The lazy man says, “There is a lion outside! I shall be slain in the streets!” (Proverbs 22:13

The lazy man says, “There is a lion in the road! A fierce lion is in the streets!” (Proverbs 26:13

Now there are few things worth noticing here. First, God doesn’t accidentally repeat Himself, so the repetition implies its importance. Second, the Bible exposes an inner condition, next to the outwardly proclaimed excuses. Third, we learn a lot about people and their manufactured dramas.

Of course, that’s what it is, isn’t it? It’s a manufactured emergency, or drama. A lion patrolling the streets of a city is was unlikely, even in ancient Israel. But here we have a person whose real problem is ill-discipline, indolence, and aversion to hard work. But he makes out that the problem is some external emergency: the drama or crisis of his life that prevents him from going to work or fulfilling his duties.

Does he believe his claim? Perhaps he has come to. He has told himself how dramatic his life is, how overwhelming it is, how pushed and over-the-top it is, that he can now comfort himself that his avoidance of work and commitment is actually a sensible, conservative, and wise approach. He is apparently oblivious to whether other people are venturing out on the streets to do their work; his tunnel vision seemingly excludes others as a useful standard to compare his own behaviour to.

Martha, many Christians are spiritually stagnant because of the lion-in-the-streets approach. Their excuses are not explanations of why they could not leave their homes. Theirs are excuses for why they could not fulfil their commitments, be diligent in service for Christ, be loyal and faithfully available to their churches. Theirs are excuses as to why they seldom read their Bibles, do not become members of the church, never disciple other people, and have no rigour or discipline in their spirituality.

“Letters to Stagnant Christians #11: Lions in the Streets”

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