For various reasons and in different ways, Christian communities can become complacent. Churches can grow weary of “always reforming.” It starts with the assumption that we’re God’s favorites, that we’ve got it right, that we’re especially God-honoring when so many others have drifted from the truth.
We forget that this sort of self-assurance is quite common throughout the history of God’s people. It leads to arrogance and it blinds us to our own corruptions. We become lazy about festering prejudices and tolerate internal practices of injustice.
What’s frightening is that God is so committed to his mission to reclaim his world, that he will visit his people with judgment if they grow arrogant, smug, and self-assured.
Regarding the return of the God of Israel to his people in Jesus, N. T. Wright says this:
But this return, as Malachi had warned, would not be comfortable: “Who can endure the day of his coming?” (3:2). Jesus came to pronounce, in sorrow, ultimate doom on the city and Temple that had corrupted and perverted its vocation to be the light of the world. Perhaps the most terrifying thing in the whole gospel story is the realization that Jesus’s solemn warnings about the judgment that was to come upon Jerusalem and the Temple within a generation were drawn from biblical prophecies not simply of the destruction of Jerusalem, but of the destruction of Babylon. Somehow, Jerusalem had lost its way so drastically; somehow the leaders of the Jewish people had gotten things so wrong in their collusion with Rome and in their corruption, oppression, and greed; somehow the Jewish people, Jesus’s own people, had gotten things so wrong in their determination to bring God’s victory to the world through military violence and armed rebellion—that the only word the last of the prophets can now speak is the word of judgment: “Not one stone will be left standing upon another. All of them will be thrown down” (Matt. 24:2).
Simply Jesus, pp. 176-177.