“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says”—James 1:22(NIV).
Have you ever experienced times in your faith walk when you felt you were merely existing? Did you find it difficult to engage in a faith community? Maybe you’re there right now.
Some call this experience “stagnant faith.” Stagnant means sluggish, inactive and motionless.
In 2010, I had an opportunity to explore Israel with a group from my church. We visited many historical and religious sites. However, when I recall our visit, the different bodies of water we encountered left a lasting impression on me.
Jesus is often referred to as “The Living Water,” but it was His Holy Spirit in one of those places that overwhelmed me with His living presence. Two bodies of water in Israel, however, paint opposite pictures of faith—living and stagnant.
To the north, the vibrant Sea of Galilee teems with aquatic life. In many places, its serene blue color is clear as crystal. The other body of water to the south is the Dead Sea, dead because there is no life in its water, which is stagnant.
What makes these two bodies of water so different is the Sea of Galilee has an inlet—the Jordan River, which flows from its source near Mount Herman. On the southern shore, the Sea of Galilee has an outlet with the water flowing into the Jordan and on through the Great Rift Valley.
The Dead Sea also has inlet with the Jordan River flowing into it. The difference is the Dead Sea has no outlet. It takes in, but gives nothing out. Our faith walk can either look like the Sea of Galilee or the Dead Sea.
In his book, “The James Code: 52 Scripture Principles for Putting Your Faith into Action,” O.S. Hawkins writes, “Vibrant believers not only take in, but they also give out. They put the Word they receive (input) into action (output). Yes, they become “doers of the word, and not hearers only.”
In a sermon by Pastor Derrick Tuper, he lists four things that can lead to stagnate faith: laziness, apathy, doubt and sin. Any of these can “stunt our spiritual growth,” he says.
If we want to be effective and productive witnesses for Christ, we need to overcome stagnant faith and become living examples of His disciples. Tuper says stagnant believers need a wake-up call. “We need to be aware of how deteriorated we’ve allowed ourselves to become. We need a dose of reality.”
To overcome stagnation, he adds, also requires renewal.
Because I need to remind myself of this sometimes, I’ve posted a scripture on my computer. Psalm 51:12 says, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.”
Pastor Tuper believes we also “need to be compelled, to be bound by a sense of duty,” a duty to be like Christ. “Christ’s love compels, it obligates us to respond to that love by living for Him instead of ourselves.”
His love redeemed us. Let us not stagnate in our faith.