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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Terrifying Complacency

Not everyone who says they’re a Christian is a Christian.  Adolf Hitler said he was a Christian. – Mark Driscoll

Hold on, folks, this is going to be a bumpy ride.  It’s not going to be pretty to start with, but ends in such a beautiful way.  We all need to understand this message, because we’re all guilty of it in some way, and we need to realize what the consequences are for living like this.

I grew up in a Christian home.  I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior and was baptized at a very early age.  The problem was that once I did that, I basically put my walk with Christ on cruise-control for the next twenty years.  I lived the stereotypical lukewarm life.  There have been moments in my life where I read my Bible every day, prayed every day, tithed every week, listened to nothing but Christian music, and carried mostly Christian-based discussions.  There have also been times where I swore constantly, got drunk on the weekend, watched porn on my computer, and started sentences with, “I refuse to believe in a God who…”

There is a consequence to living this way.  A big one.  Read Jesus’s letter to the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:14-22.  How does Jesus respond to a person whose walk is like this?  He spits them out.  Think about that.  The action of spitting is generally a harsh reaction—spitting in someone’s face, spitting at someone’s feet, just spitting something out indicates disgust.  Jesus is disgusted by this kind of person.  Different versions of the Bible even use the word “vomit” instead of “spit.”

Lukewarm Christians make Jesus sick.

Seems a bit harsh, doesn’t it?  Lukewarm feelings mean contentment.  If you’re lukewarm, if you’re content, then you’re satisfied.  Satisfied is a good thing, right?  Well, if you are being evaluated at your job, is “satisfactory” the highest score you can obtain?  If your boss marks you as a satisfactory employee, do you stand first in line for the next promotion?  Can you imagine what would happen if a man dropped to one knee, pulled out a cheap ring, and said, “Sweetie, I’m content with you.  I’m satisfied with you.  Will you marry me?”

Now say that to God.  “God…you’re okay.  I don’t exactly love you, but I’m content with you.  We’re cool, right?”

As Francis Chan puts it:  “Some Christians take that attitude.  ‘You know, I’m a pretty good person, but I’ll take Jesus too…just in case.’  That’s the scariest place to be.  If you think that you’re a good person and you don’t need Jesus, that’s about the most dangerous place you can be.”

What’s the greatest commandment?  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.” (Luke 10:27).  You’re not exactly loving the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and strength and mind if you’re lukewarm.

In his sermon titled "Boiling for Christ", John Piper points out that, “Over and over the Bible says intensity matters.  Zeal matters.  Wholeheartedness matters.  Don’t settle for anything less.”

Paul writes in Romans 12:11 to “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”  Piper notes that the word “fervor” comes from the Latin fervens, which means “boiling.”  We are to boil for Christ.

But do we?

In Malachi 1:10, God rejects the sacrifice they make to Him.  Why?  Because the purpose of the sacrifice is to honor God, and they were offering the equivalent of their leftovers.  Imagine if Jesus came to your house tonight for dinner…are you going to serve leftovers to the Son of God?

We still act like this today.  Chan:  “People think, ‘Well, yeah, I believe in Him.  I’ll show up here and there, but I’m not going to go fanatical about it.  I don’t want to be one of those fanatics who’s so into God.  I’ll go to church, but I’m not going to go every single week, and then serve and teach an extra hour outside of that.  I mean, two hours a week out of my life for God?  That’s crazy.’”

If God actually had a hold of your heart, you wouldn’t think like this, you wouldn’t act like this, you wouldn’t talk like this. – Mark Driscoll

Want to hear the ultimate oxymoron?  “Lukewarm Christian.”  You cannot be both.  Some may disagree with this statement, but they would be wrong.  A Christian is a follower of Christ.  A follower of Christ loves God with all their heart and soul and strength and mind.  Not some.  Not half.  They don’t say that their walk with Christ is “good enough.”

There’s no such thing as a “good enough” Christian.

Piper (from his "How to Buy Gold When You’re Broke" sermon):  “I find it very hard to make this mean that such people will, after all, be saved and enjoy the blessings and fellowship of Christ for all eternity.  Surely the image of spitting people out of his mouth means that he has found them to be unacceptable and rejects them.  The faith that saves is not a lukewarm, half-hearted faith.”
Chan:  “Can I be lukewarm and still be saved?  Well…what does (Jesus’s letter) say?  You are ‘wretched…pitiful…poor…blind…’ Are these words that you normally use for a believer?  ‘I once was blind, but now I’m blind’?”
Driscoll:  “The Bible says that the Lord knows who are His (2 Timothy 2:19).  The Bible says that some of us will stand before God and say, ‘Here’s my resume…I did some good things.’  And Jesus says…what?  ‘Apart from me, I never knew you’ (Matthew 7:23).  We didn’t have a relationship.”

Can you blame Him for this reaction?  How would you feel if your spouse’s love for you was lukewarm?  Your parents’?  Your children’s?

What’s interesting is that Satan knows all of this.  He knows it and uses it as one of his variety of tactics to keep us from God.  The dastardly deeds of the devil: 1) Doubt (You question God).  2) Discouragement (You’re more concerned with your problems than God).  3) Diversion (The wrongs things look attractive).  4) Defeat (You feel like a failure, so you don’t even try).  5) Delay (Keep putting things off, and they never get done).  6) Desultory (You and God are “cool,” but that’s it).

Being lukewarm is one of the ways Satan keeps us from God.  As He always does, however, Jesus has an answer.  Revelation 3:20 – “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 that person, and they with me.”  How great is that?  Despite all that we’ve done, here’s our loving and patient Lord knocking on our door…wanting to be with us.  Open your heart to Jesus, and watch your lukewarm attitude melt away.

Piper:  “God promises to be found by us when we see him with earnestness rather than half-heartedness.  ‘You will seek me and find me.  When you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you declares the Lord’ (Jeremiah 29:13-14).  The opposite of lukewarmness is the fervor you experience when you enjoy a candlelit dinner with Jesus Christ in the innermost room of your heart.  And when Jesus Christ, the source of all God's creation, is dining with you in your heart, then you have all the gold, all the garments, and all the medicine in the world.”

The more and more I read Revelation 3:14-22 this week, the more I fell in love with it.  What vivid and polarizing imagery in this letter!!  Jesus begins by saying those who are lukewarm (which, let’s be honest, is most of us at some point) make Him vomit.  Okay…that stings a bit.  He goes on to tear us a new one, and it hurts.  We’ve all been reamed by a parent…I mean really, really chewed out.  It’s not fun.  This is one of those scoldings where we just drop our heads and pray for it to end.

But then Jesus does what only He can—turns a butt-kicking lecture into a heartwarming message.  After reprimanding us, He says that all we have to do to fix it is ask Him into our heart.  That’s like the parent who, when finished screaming, says, “Do you love me?”  We nod, hug it out, and everything is better.

But then Jesus takes it to a whole new level.  Revelation 3:21 – “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.”  I’m sorry…what?!  Merely five verses ago, I was making You vomit…now You’re saying that if I overcome this sin, this lukewarmness, I can sit with You on Your throne?!  That’s like after hugging it out with your parent, they give you the keys to their brand new Porsche…only a b’gillion times better!!

Look…no one likes to be scolded, but we all need it from time to time.  Whether you like it or not, God has no place in Heaven reserved for lukewarm Christians.  He’s not interested in people who are merely content with Him…and He shouldn’t be.  Shame on us for believing otherwise.  That being said, He loves us so much that He’s offering His throne to those of us who boil with love for Him.  Sounds like a pretty sweet trade to me.

I have been hot for Christ since January.  It’s the longest I have remained this consistently hot my whole life.  I am terrified that it will go away.  That is my greatest fear because it has been the trend for my life.  However, here’s the difference between then and now:  I have more weapons this time.  Piper says the best way to combat lukewarmness is through prayer.  Simply beg God to keep the fire burning.  Reading the Bible is a must, but I’m turning to other Christian authors as well.  I’m trying to learn.  Maintaining your walk with Christ can easily lead to complacency, which translates to a satisfactory relationship with God.  Pushing your knowledge, your values, your faith…it’s like working out in a gym…you’re going to continue to gain strength.

You, dear Reader, also keep my fire burning.  I absolutely love doing these posts every week, and in order to write them, I have to read…a lot.  I have to research…a lot.  I watch anywhere from 2-5 online sermons from various pastors around the country from a variety of years each week.  When you surround yourself with this much God every week, how do you not burn for Him?

My friends, this is not a topic we can take lightly.  It’s serious and needs to be addressed immediately.  There are good people in this world that will go to Hell.  There are people who call themselves Christians that will go to Hell because God never knew them.  Does he know you?  Are you on fire for Him, or do you approach God with a “good enough” heart?  I pray for all of you to turn up that temperature.  I ask for the same prayer in return.  Let’s all sit on God’s throne together.

This is the greatest life. Therefore do not be slothful in zeal, but boil in the spirit as you serve the Lord. – John Piper

If you’ve been reading Cromulent Thoughts for awhile, you’ve probably seen the name Francis Chan come up frequently.  Some of you know who he is.  For those that don’t, Chan is perfect for where I am in my current walk with Christ.  Maybe he’s perfect for you too.  He’s challenging.  Big time.  He’ll drop a line that will just punch you in the stomach and make you question everything you’ve been doing.

For this week’s post, I watched this sermon of his from 2006.  For probably the first half or so, it seems like the lesson mainly applies to his congregation, but stick with it because as he moves forward, it all comes together.  When he really turns it on, I could barely keep up with him as I took notes.  As he hits the end, and I just sat there in utter awe, I realized that merely quoting him wouldn’t be enough.  Christians need to watch this.  I needed to see this.  Hear this.  You need to see this.  Hear this.  Please, please, please absorb this message.  Yes, it’s lengthy (about 40 minutes)…so come back if you need to…but I beg you to hear what he has to say.

A sample:  “What concerns me is that many of you would say that you’re lukewarm.  What concerns me more is that many of you would say, ‘Yeah…I’m lukewarm,’ walk out the door and do nothing about it.  What concerns me the most is that many of you say that you’re lukewarm, you know that you’re lukewarm, but you want to be lukewarm.  You’ve got ‘enough’ God in your life.  You don’t have enough stuff, you don’t have enough money, but you have enough God in your life right now.”

1 comment:

  1. I watched this a couple months ago. SOOO good! Will watch it again. I have actually TAUGHT that we all need to read our bibles regularly...but even I fell from that. And when I did, I suffered. I was lukewarm, I knew it and I was NOT happy with where I was spiritually. Eventually, God got my groove on again.