Why Status Quo Isn’t Working

The brain is nothing short of amazing.

In a recent study, scientists showed a smiley face to a monkey and were able to photograph the morphing neurons and blood vessels forming the same smiley face pattern on the monkey’s brain.**

Although it exists as one of the final frontiers, we do know this: multitasking is bad for the brain and napping is good. Meditation helps increase our memory and relieve stress. Obesity accelerates dementia. Love lights up the brain while habitual videogaming depresses it.

Status Quo: It Isn’t Working For Us

Studies also show that the brain that remains unchallenged will slowly deteriorate over time. This becomes readily apparent when people retire. If they don’t fight the onset of terminal status quo, the brain begins to break down. While traveling is a satisfactory antidote, older people need something that will challenge their minds. Regular doses of vigorous cognitive workouts like memorization and anything requiring higher reasoning and analytical skills helps keep our brains in tip-top shape.

In the video above, the 80s rock band Yes sings the song “Changes.” As a musician, I’m a big fan of the creativity they incorporate(d) into their music (creativity works in the opposite direction of status quo). In this particular song, they sing about changes while repeatedly changing the meter in the song.

All that to say, status quo wreaks havoc on our brains. Like the battery on your computer or cell phone, the less you use it to its full capacity, the less productive it becomes. Recurring, repetitive actions literally kill us.

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Status Quo: It Isn’t Working For God Either

God isn’t a big fan of status quo either. Here’s how he challenged the status quo in  Bible times. He:

  • Called Abraham to leave the safe, everyday confines of his family and home for a new country—yet Abraham had no idea where he was going.
  • Instructed Gideon to lead 300 men in an attack against the vastly superior Midianite army. Status quo (and conventional wisdom) says 300 men shouldn’t take on an army at least ten times bigger.
  • Instructed Jonah to travel to Nineveh and preach repentance to Israel’s greatest enemy, the Assyrians. But Jonah ran from God because he knew the people might heed God’s warning and change. Jonah preferred the status quo of a godless enemy over a potentially godly ally.
  • Informed a 14 year old virgin girl that she was about to give birth to the long-awaited messiah.
  • Sent his only son Jesus into the world to upset the status quo of sin and death and save humanity from themselves.

I realize that status quo looks a lot like living by faith, and the two are similar. Also, status isn’t always bad. Remaining faithful to a spouse (a form of status quo) is always good. But all too often we content ourselves with the “same old, same old” when our lives would be much richer, much more God-like if we shook off our doldrums and gave up status quo for Lent.

Over the last week or so, the cancerous affects of status quo in my own life have become much more apparent to me. The Law of Status Quo (which I just made up) tells us that entities which continue operating according to the current state of affairs slowly die. Death is the logical end of status quo, but I can list a few other items which reflect this law:

  • Relationships
  • Our relationship with God
  • Death-giving habits (known as addictions)
  • Living safe (rather than living by faith)
  • Meaningless religious rituals

If you’d like to give up status quo for life as God intended, there’s no better time to make changes than right now. I once heard Zig Ziglar, the motivational speaker, say, “If you want to bring change into your life, you need to begin by changing the way you get up in the morning. If you normally get out of bed on one side–get out of bed from the other.”

Lean into your relationships that are in the doldrums. Incorporate a spiritual discipline that helps you connect with God. Just break the cancerous cycle of status quo.

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado. If you live in the Denver area and you’re interested in paying us a visit, click here.

**Source: Southwest Airlines’ Spirit Magazine, March 2011, 74.


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15 responses to “Why Status Quo Isn’t Working

  1. Georgie-ann

    The words that come to my mind are “hypnotic” and “trance” and “passivity” and “sleepwalking” and “habit” and “grouchy if I’m disturbed from my comfortable ‘zoned-out’ reverie and disconnection from interactive responsibility” (i.e., “life.”). And I don’t think our widely practiced electronic pass-times are helping this condition one bit — the way many people are engaged in them.

    As a parent I felt challenged to “keep it real” for my kids. Not only did we live on a farm, but we were the welcoming central gathering place for most of the neighborhood’s loose children, day in and day out. And I’ve noticed how just “adding a dog to the family” was a miraculous “cure” in some cases, where good families had grown tense and zombied-out by an acquired habit of empty daily escapism into too much boring repetitive TV.

    I’ve always noticed how hard it is to turn off the TV, so these days I would rarely choose to turn it on. It is a great time and attention waster. It sucks out our very life force. It readily supplants and replaces one’s own autonomous thinking processes. Thinking of an idea yourself is so much different from parroting someone else’s — you can “own” your own idea. You feel creative, alive.

    Unplugging from the devitalizing “bad habits,” and identifying the revitalizing “good habits,” and actively choosing to “stay on course” with those can literally change your very life.

  2. I’m like you, Georgie-ann. I watch very little TV. Instead, I either spend more time with my wife or I write.

  3. Georgie-ann

    That must explain why reading your book, “Strange Fire, Holy Fire,” struck such a deep cord (chord?) with me. This is very exciting, being able to add/exchange thoughts with the author. I was very happy for the book’s invitation to do so! Thanks!

  4. I’m just a normal guy who somehow found his way into writing. Actually, right now I’m in Washington D.C. (your time zone!) with my roommate from college who gave me my start as a writer. Tom Freiling used to be the publisher of Creation House books, if you remember them. Thanks for your kind words, Georgie-ann.

  5. Georgie-ann

    I’m not really “normal” by today’s patterns. So, I’m working very hard to change the definition of what “normal” should be!

    Welcome to the East Coast. I don’t prefer to call it “home,” but it is. My brother lives down near where you are currently. We’ve had one heck of a winter this year.


  6. elna

    I just finished reading ‘Crazy love’ by Francis Chan. Now that is a book that challenges the status quo!!

    • Georgie-ann

      elna,…can you explain a little what the book is about?,…thanks!,…g

    • Georgie-ann

      Dear Elna (and anyone else looking in),…I have to be honest that I did NOT read this book, but I spent quite awhile with the videos this evening at the link. While I (personally) DO agree that God can certainly be encouraging us to move out of our status quo realms — (in small ways, or “to do exploits for Him”) — and that we can be taking way too much for granted, I find the strong emphasis on fear (of God) — even as a partial motivating factor — to raise ??? for me,…

      Perhaps pursuing a deeper study of the framework and context in which this is being specifically used — (evangelisticly?,…admonishment?,…to shake us up out of our lukewarm sleep?) — would bring things together in a better way for me. I certainly also do agree with the awesomeness of God, and ideas relating to that. And it’s also “different strokes for different folks” and times and situations.

      But when God has already healed you from induced religious and environmental fears, it is difficult to reconcile thinking about getting on a bandwagon where fear of a beloved God appears to play even a small part.

      Fear of the devil who could lead me astray,…fear of my own ability to be deceived by my own weaknesses,…temporal fear of those who are haters of God and His people,…but once God has bonded in a relationship of healing friendship, is it God that we need to focus on in fear?

      He is immutable,…His ways are everlasting,…He is awesome,…I would fear to break rank with Him, just as I would fear to cross the street on a red light,…but is that fearing God as a personal God, or a cognizant respect for the design that operates and orchestrates His universe?

      • elna

        why not both?
        My idea of God can never fully encompass Him…My idea of God is only a reflection of where I am in my walk in my Christian life. If I keep on walking in God’s way it will change…and it has changed :)) I do not want to be like the Israelites that saw God’s power at Sinai and quivered in fear and rather send in an old man to take the brunt (Joke) (I would rather be like a Joshua that went with Moses. ) We come back to the cultural issue…. we need to ‘de-learn’ our idols and get to know the true God. The reason why we were taken in by the idols is because there was this kernel of truth! and God in His infinite wisdom will take me and cleanse me totally (justification) and then He will through time sanctify me by teaching me more about Him. This is the road I am walking and you will not walk the exact same road because you started out from a different place than me….but it is all still God’s road. The fear if the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (proverbs) and it is the way by which we turn away from sin towards God because we fear His retribution and His hate of sin, and we humble ourselves in submission to God because of WHO HE IS . A God of love : 1 Cor 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

        8 Love never fails

        Romans 1:21.we need to glorify God and thank Him

  7. Georgie-ann

    Dear Elna,…I agree with everything you say there. For one person, the fear of God could be an important revelation at a certain point in time, for another it will be the Love of God. Certainly, if one is living “out of God’s will,” fear of God in that condition would make sense. I’m saying to myself that just as in the progression from the Old Testament to the New Testament, there is a progression from fear of God under the Law (and therefore the “beginning of Wisdom”), to Love of God being made possible
    (restored) through Grace and Christ’s sacrifice, which does not ignore the principles of the Law, but fulfills them.

    1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”

    Having witnessed the abuse and psychological manipulation of a cultish situation in which fear and insinuation and suggestion were inherent in the tools used to influence people, I am personally quite allergic to those types of “overtones” in a “message,” and usually choose not to get involved. And “for the record,” just wanted to make that clear.

    I have no problem with anything you said, though. And thank you so much for your response!

    God bless!

  8. Georgie-ann, I love that differentiation between the God of the Law and the God of Love. He never changed in that progression, but he revealed himself differently. We see glimpses of the God of Love in the Old Testament, and we see glimpses of the God of the Law in the New Testament, although the cross made strict adherence to the Law unnecessary because, as you said, Jesus fulfilled it. Nevertheless, he’s still holy.

    Not trying to barge in on your conversation, just playing with a few thoughts as a result of your post.


    • Georgie-ann

      Before “original sin” — (according to me) — there was “original blessedness!”

      Original sin — the fall of Adam and Eve at the lying and tempting hand of satan — induced the great need for God’s Precious Gift of the Law to mankind, as much needed clarification about God and His Holy* Will and Righteousness — Who God Is and What Is His True Character.

      Under the co-opted influence of satan, mankind was seeing life and God through a completely distorted lens: where wrong looked right, bad looked good, and “God” could be irrelevant, abstract, cold, uninvolved, distant, erratic, judgmental, temperamental and in need of constant appeasement. A glimpse of what went on on pagan altars (even human sacrifices), is a picture of how brutally and obsessively satan had managed to enslave mankind.

      The Law was the first step in “sorting things out.” It needed to be kept holy* and protected, due to the hatred of satan and his propensity for attacking and distorting it. Actually, the Law reflects Life as lived “normally,” in keeping with a sane and good God, as compared to the rampant pagan insanity of the day.

      The Holy Law paving the way back to a relationship with the Holy God, was all about restoring the originally intended goodness to and within mankind. God is Good and God is Love and these things ARE HOLY, because we need to value and protect them from the lies, the distortions, and the manipulations and pollution of the devil. But, in reality, they are also the true “normal” intended for mankind. Amazingly, we are still learning a lot about these things — as satan never seems to run out of lies, propositions, temptations and mud to sling.

      *glad you brought up the word Holy!

      • Georgie-ann

        I’ve also thought — as further clarification — that it would not be so much a matter of “fearing God” if I “stepped out of His will,” but rather that in this life, I would fear losing the security of His benevolent protection over me. There is a sense of this being accrued in an ongoing relationship of love and obedience. There ARE great perks to “being in His will!” — (not speaking a perfectionist here: if we try to do the best we can in action and prayers, it counts for a lot in these matters).

        Taking a chance of intentionally moving “out of His will” for me would first and foremost be grievous as a violation of love, but secondarily would DEFINITELY open me up to a vulnerability to the negative and hateful forces of satan at work in our realm. It is this exposure that that I would fear — my fear would be of “losing a good God” in a bad and dangerous situation.

        If it ever came to be a rebellious situation leading to hell,…yes, I would definitely fear that face of God. But as His friends, we are promised safety from such painful realities.

        John 15:14-16

        14 “You are My friends if you keep on doing the things which I command you to do.

        15 “I do not call you servants (slaves) any longer, for the servant does not know what his master is doing (working out). But I have called you My friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from My Father. [I have revealed to you everything that I have learned from Him.]

        16 “You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed you [I have planted you], that you might go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit may be lasting [that it may remain, abide], so that whatever you ask the Father in My Name [as presenting all that I AM], He may give it to you.”

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