February 11, 2016

Throwback Thursday: On Lukewarm Christianity

Throwback Thursday is a series of posts, wherein I will on (some) Thursdays post a piece of writing from back in the day. Generally not from this blog. I will edit slightly for readability and grammar, but my intention is to allow each piece to stand basically as written. Over the years my mind has shifted on many things, as my knowledge of life, the Scriptures, and myself has grown. I'm not in the business of hiding this fact, so these will probably contain some things that even I think are crazy.




Notes from Fuel 2/13/2010, with some elaboration.
Originally posted on Facebook, February 14, 2010


Well, I was gonna post the notes I had for my message, but I meandered a bit from them, so I re-worked them and elaborated on them a bit. A lot a bit. In fact this is taking that message as a basis and basically going into what God has taught me in the last two days.

My base text was Revelation 3:12-22 (NIV)

"To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
This is the final of a series of seven letters to the churches in Asia Minor, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and penned by the apostle John. This one in particular is penned to a church who is called "lukewarm". The first thing I think of when I think lukewarm is coffee. Now, idk about you, but lukewarm coffee triggers my gag reflex. It's disgusting, nasty, and not worthy of consumption. And that's what God is saying here of these people who take on His name. You call yourself a Christian and yet your fruit isn't there. You don't deny God, yet you don't life your life for Him. This makes you the equivalent of coffee that's been sitting on the counter for an hour, take a drink and the only thing you want to do is spit it out. That's us to God when we aren't on fire for Him. We call on Him, we claim the promises He makes, but we don't really love Him or live our lives for Him. Instead of recognizing our worthlessness as humans, we get that complacent attitude.

But He doesn't just let us sit there. Verse nineteen tells us that He chastens and rebukes those He loves, and then gives us a call to repentance. The New King James says be zealous and repent. Zealous. Sitting in church for an hour and a half on Sunday is not zealous. Going to a Wednesday night Bible study is not zealous. Not that those are bad things, in fact they are necessary (Hebrews 10:25) for the building up and edification of the body. But if it stops there, our faith is dead and useless. We have to be in the Word constantly, in prayer, learning and yearning for a deeper relationship with Christ.

Hebrews 12:3-11 (NIV)

Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
In our striving against sin and our struggle to live godly lives that are so contrary to anything this world offers us, we have to remember Jesus. In fact, I would say more than just remember, this has to be our focus. That's why we struggle against sin, that's why we seek to live lives that honor God, that's why we need to share that love with other.

I've really been convicted of late that I'm a fake. Probably not in the way that it sounds in the last sentence, but that's really the best word for it. I live my life talking about God's grace and how it's a gift I will never earn, and then I go and try to do stuff to please Him, and try to earn His favor. Time for a wake up call. Will sucks. My very being is sinful and evil; I can do nothing to please God, at all. But I don't have to. Jesus paid it all. God looks down and is pleased, because He sees not my sin, but the redeeming work of Christ. I can't do anything to pay that back. I can't try to earn any little bit of my salvation, because I'm a worthless little toothpick (thought I'd throw that in there, thank you to those who got it, haha) who has no worth or value or goodness of my own. But God loves me in spite of that. I'm not un-deserving of His favor, I'm ill-deserving. That is, I don't start at zero on a scale of 1-10, I start somewhere around -76. But God looked past that, sent His Son Jesus, who willingly died for my sin and conquered that, paying a price I never could, enduring pain I could never understand to have a relationship with me. With me. Wow. No, I can't earn God's love. All I can do is love Him with all my heart, and as an expression of that strive to live and walk closer to Him everyday in everything I do. I dunno how much it's gonna change on the outside of me, cause I'm a pretty good fake. But God in the last two days has beat me down, ripped me apart, and took my heart and soul to the cleaners. I set out the other night to attempt a call to Christians to quit being lukewarm. Then God told me that it was me I was preaching to. Cause I'm the one God wants to spit out. My heart has been in the wrong place for way too long. And it's time to start living in love, not in effort.

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I love Jesus, my wife, and my kids. Writing and teaching are two things I have a passion for. Gardening and fishing are cool, too. I blog @ willdole.com, you can reach me @ contact@willdole.com