The Lukewarm Christian

The Lukewarm Christian – Revelation 3:14-22

 

There is no form of Casual Christianity that we want to be.

1st – the Christian Atheist – Christians who live as if there is no God

2nd – the Cultural Christian – Christians whose faith is guided by what the world thinks

3rd – the Lukewarm Christian!  Some call this the Comfortable Christian

Revelation 3:14-22

The book of Revelation gives us seven letters to seven churches located in Asia Minor.  These cities are in the middle of the first century world.  The churches in these seven cities were suffering persecution and tribulation from the Roman government, or soon would be.  There would be pressure to conform to times.  To worship just like everyone else.  To set Christianity aside, at lease for a moment or two to fit in with the rest of society!

Laodicea is the last church addressed by the Lord.  Just like the other churches, Jesus knows all about what they are experiencing.  His vision is not blinded to the struggles the church goes through.  He knows how the church is reacting to the pressures they are feeling.  Jesus is with the churches and gives them solutions to their problems.  And with Laodicea we find the solution to the problem of being lukewarm Christians – Christians without zeal for the Lord, who have become “uncommitted” to him and committed to themselves.

Jesus who is the Amen and the Faithful and True Witness writes to a church that he has nothing positive to say about them.  He has words of discipline.  They are not as they should be.  His words, his promises, his judgments are certain.  They are God’s values, God’s judgments, but of course that is who Jesus is.

He is also the “firstborn of creations” or the “originator” of it all.  Implying that he rules, he is the ruler of all.

So we’ve got a church that is lukewarm!  They are neither cold like the water in Colossae about 10 miles away, nor are they hot like the springs in Hierapolis about 6 miles away.  The water from these two spots were piped into Laodicea because it did not have a water supply of its own.  So once you got the cold water from Colossae to Laodicea, it wasn’t cold, it was warm.  Not the most pleasant taste.  And once you got the water from the hot springs to town, it was warm.  In fact, the water that came into Laodicea wasn’t very good.  It was disgusting.

The hot water was good for medicinal purposes and the cold water was refreshing to drink.  But lukewarm water was blah.

The point of describing lukewarm water is that it is disgusting.  Jesus finds the lukewarm church to be other than what HE desires.

The reason for their self-satisfied, uncommitted manner is that they think that since they are rich, they were wealthy people that really didn’t need anything.

Laodicea was a banking center.  Because of the wealth, there were leisure and cultural aspects, gladiatorial games and theatre; comfort, entertainment, diversions, etc.  It was an important city because it also had a major textile industry.  Clothing was made there and they had a unique product, black wool.  Oh, and, there was a medical school there and the city was famous for its eye salve among other medical breakthroughs.

Jesus is telling the self-satisfied church, “I want water that will refresh me, but you remind me instead of the water you are always complaining about.  You’re lack of zeal makes me want to vomit.”

Their wealth was a problem.  It had made them too comfortable and blinded them to what their faith was about.

What are the dangers of Physical wealth which can lead us to Spiritual poverty?

  • Self-sufficiency, trusting in what I have acquired, it is enough, etc.
  • Pride, look at what I have done
  • Not needing nor wanting any outside help including from the Lord
  • Prosperity blinds us.

Craig Keene says “I fear that the problems of Laodicean Christians are most like our own.”

Richard Sterns of World Vision (formerly CEO of Lenox Inc. makers of fine China), “If the book of Revelation were written today and there was a letter to the church in America, I think it would decry the fact that our materialism and wealth have deafened our ears and blinded our eyes to the cause of the poor.”

Every American is rich.  Even those that are considered poor by our standards are wealthy compared to a majority of the rest of the world and even the wealthiest of kings up until the last 400-500 years or so.

And many Christians cannot see their spiritual need, how poor and blind they are because they have.  They are comfortable and settled and trust in what they have and ignore what God says about things and the needs of others.

What is “true religion” as James tells us?  It is to look after widows and orphans, those who are poor, helpless, and oppressed and to keep yourself unstained by the world, to be pure in heart, to be holy, to be free from sin (James 1:27).

What Richard Sterns was getting at is that we can hear about suffering elsewhere and often we will find theological or even sociological reasons that it won’t happen to us, and even to avoid actually spending our wealth, even in the church on those needs.  Our walk . . . can make us spiritually poor.

There is a church I know of, that a friend of mine used to preach for.  He was their minister for many years, but resigned after challenging them.  They had accumulated an excessive amount of savings, in the tens of thousands of dollars and wouldn’t touch it for anything.  There were missions in need, the camp they supported could have used extra funds, people struggling with rent and utilities, but they would not touch this money that they had been saving for decades.  And as far as I know, they still haven’t touched it to this day.  They are rich in wealth, but where is their spiritual sense of purpose and action.

The lukewarm church, lukewarm Christians are people who possess the name Christian, but do so without the power of God.

Jesus has a solution to lukewarmness

1st – Though you possess what makes you feel comfortable, Jesus advises that we buy true wealth from him.  Trust in him not our physical riches.  Physical riches are not for making us comfortable, they are for us to help spread the good news and provide for the needy.

2nd – Though we think we are clothed, we are naked before God, so buy clothes from Jesus that will cover our nakedness.  The true clothing of Christianity, not self-sufficiency but trust in Christ.

3rd – Repent and become totally committed to me.  Let me build a fire of zeal for true faith and true religion in your belly and free you from what makes you taste horrible to me.  Then you will be like refreshing water.

4th – Open the door and let Jesus come in and eat with you.  The last meal of the day is the meal of intimate fellowship.  That is where the relationship grows and bonds and becomes alive.  Let Jesus come in and let him develop the relationship of faith and hope and trust and joy with him.  He wants to be a part of your life.

John is helping the church see their behavior as Jesus sees it.  Their vision has been cut off due to their complacency.  They have relied upon themselves and not God.  By their own self-sufficiency they have shut Jesus out.

Jesus is calling them on it.  He loves them, so he will discipline them inviting them to repent and become committed again.  He promises them that if they will come alive, they will rule with him.  That does not mean we will be kings like Christ is king, but that as his people, we are the ruler’s people, we are his people.

You trusted in your riches and wealth and thought you were good.  But you are actually wretched and poor, blind and naked.  You are not as you think you are.  You have not examined and evaluated your life.  Because it is distasteful to me, if you remain this way, if you do not change, you do not let me in, then your eternity that you once trusted in is at stake.

 

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Christmas is Coming Soon

It’s Friday, one week before Christmas day as I write this. I’m sitting in Panera Bread with a cup of coffee and a gingerbread man cookie. I’m taking the cookie home.

There is Christmas music playing from the ceiling. Blue Christmas, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, and others.

Everyone is in a festive mood. Life seems good even when it isn’t.

So, what are you doing with Christmas this year. Has your focus been on Christ? Will it remain on Christ? The thing is, Christmas is where Christ is.

Without Christ, there is no “Christ”-mas. I know you’re seeing and hearing that all over the place, but that is the reality of it. Without Christ, there is no Christmas.

Over the next week, we’ll take a test (sort of) and see how well we know the account about the birth of Jesus Christ.

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The Edge’s Influence Revisited

September 29th, I made the observation that modern praise and worship had been influenced by U2 and more specifically their guitar player The Edge.  Here’s the link, https://blogthechurch.wordpress.com/2010/09/29/modern-praise-worship-sounds-like-u2/

Andy’s Corner at Pro Guitar Shop relates The Edge’s influence, providing a little bio and how he get his sound.

http://proguitarshop.com/andyscorner/2010/12/08/living-on-the-edge-a-look-at-the-edge%E2%80%99s-influence-on-modern-rock-and-of-course-his-tone/

U2 has influenced a lot, musically, tonally, politically, spiritually, etc.

But The Edge’s approach to guitar and his sound is by and far one of the most recognizable guitar tones.

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I hope you are preparing to have a Christ filled Christmas

The Uncomfortable Truth (Romans Pt 2)

I believe it’s pretty common, most people want or try to improve themselves. The New Year is a popular time for people to reevaluate their lives and resolve themselves to improving themselves in some way. Eat healthier, lose weight, develop stronger relationships, help the needy more, be more productive at work, etc.

I think we all want change that is desirable to ourselves as well as is beneficial to those around us. Isn’t that a good goal? Be better and make the world a better place.

We also rely upon others to make things better. In the past couple of national elections, the main reason America elected most of the candidates they did was to see our country become a better place, economically and socially, to put the biases and divisions behind and find a unity that might propel our country forward as not only the greatest nation it has been, but that it will become even greater.

There are organizations whose purpose is to benefit and improve the lives of others. They may be concerned with the planet, or with poverty, or with animals, or education, or any number of things.

We humans want to be better. How well we’re doing at that is a matter of opinion, but there is one uncomfortable truth that each individual must wrestle with, whether we like it or not. Here is the fact – we human beings are sinners!

Bad word. No one likes that word and a lot of us want to deny that is what we are. We weren’t born that way, we were born with the ability to learn and the free-will to choose and we learn to sin and we choose to sin which makes us sinners.

We all want to improve ourselves just like I already noted, but we cannot improve or change until we understand and admit that need. I can’t overcome being overweight until I consciously and emotionally admit that it’s not good and then I must have the conviction and determination that something needs to be done about it and so I’m grateful for Nutrisystem. Until I come to that point in my life, my weight will remain, or actually, continue to increase, even if only gradually.

We hide ourselves from God because we have sin. Sin never accomplishes anything positive. It actually separates us from God. We want to deny that, but it is true. Look at Romans 1:18

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all godlessness and wickedness of men” (sin and sinfulness) “who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (NIV)

We try to hide from our sin. Yet we are sinners and God will punish sin. Romans 6:23 says plainly, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (NIV).

It’s not good. George Carlin (1937-2008) accused Christians of being the reason for the problems in the world. I will admit that some Christians have created problems in the world, and at the same time I realize that many who claim to be Christians do not represent God or the spirit of Christianity. I think that Carlin, and others like Bill Maher have lumped all people who claim to be Christians into one basket. That is dangerous. That’s like saying every Democrat is liberal or every Republican is conservative and interpreting the characteristics of each party on the basis of a few people. That’s not fair.

The problems in the world is sin. It always has been. Sin is a separation from God. Sin puts up a wall that keeps us from reaching God and keeps God away from our lives. We like the moral teachings of Jesus, we revel in the care for the weak, the crippled, and the poor that the Bible endorses, but just being moral, or being helpful doesn’t bring us close to God because sin has separated us from him.

The sad reality is that each and every one of us has learned to and has chosen to sin. A single white lie, disobeying our parents, stealing a dime from the kid sitting next to you in math class, any single thing was enough to build the wall. And the more we do things that are sin, it’s makes this proverbial wall higher, and wider, and even thicker separating us further from God.

All have sinned and come short of God’s glory” Romans 3:23 (NASB), or as “The Message says, “Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us….”

We can’t please God in this way. We can’t get close to God with sin, in fact, he doesn’t hear our cries out to him in need or in thanksgiving unless we are repenting of our sin.

Another sad reality is, since we humans sin and seem to want to keep sinning, God has given us over to that sin and things continue to go from bad to worse in our lives and in the world. God will not force his will on us, but his desire is to have a close and intimate relationship with you and me.

The truth is uncomfortable, but it is not hopeless.

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Grace Rests Easily Where Sin Once Sat (Romans Pt. 1)

The power of God’s grace is often lost on us. Grace is greater than our sin. Grace is greater than the power of Satan. What Satan robs us of is our relationship with God. Sin sits in power and control over our lives.

Look at the 10 Commandments as example.

The first four commandments are honoring and worshiping God and nothing and no one else (Exodus 20:3-11). When you or I place anything as more important than God, than we have joined in the worship of idolatry. It can money, or fame, or sex, or food, or relationships, or any number of things that we make more important than God. When we do not follow the holiness and ways of God in our lives, it is sin.

Note: sin is to literally miss the mark. The mark is the ways of God and sin is not following the ways of God.These first commandments relate directly to God while the rest relate to other people, but it is due to our relationship with God that

they are possible.

Exodus 20:12-17. Here is the summary of each one:

  • Honor your parents with love and obedience, but caring for them as they age is the picture that is explained later in the books of Moses.
  • Do not murder other people.
  • Do not be involved in adultery, sex with others that are not your spouse.
  • Don’t take things that do not belong to you, it is stealing.
  • Don’t misrepresent (bear false witness) the truth about other people. Tell the truth.
  • Don’t desire the things others have (possessions, their spouse, their servants) etc.

It is easy to sit in the seat of sin (to keep using the metaphor). To do what opposes God’s character. It is not just sin, it is rebelling against God’s best for us. When I sin, it is as good as saying, God what you desire for me is not good enough in my estimation. I’ll do my own thing.

But God’s grace is greater than our sin. It is a gift that we receive from God when we lay our life open to him to let him clean the sin out of our life and mold us into the likeness of his son, Jesus Christ.

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:4-10

This what God’s wants to do in your life. And he will do it freely and easily.

This blog, among other things will be taking a close look at the book of Romans and realizing what grace is, where grace sits and how easily grace rests in our lives.

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Sorry I haven’t posted for a while

I must apologize. I haven’t posted much for the past several weeks. Life does get busy, but the busy I have been experiencing has little to do with busy holidays,  like so many of us experience. My congregation has been going through a very difficult time. One of our people who is a very contentious man has devastated our church. We have gone from 45 to 10 in a matter of months and have been concentrating on healing, restoration, and renewal.

My heart hasn’t been in too much but care and concern for my congregation.

As we recover from this period I will share our progress.

I would ask you to pray for us as we have been hurt and as we rely on God even more. This is a trial and I know God allows this to trust our faith and we are determined to be faithful to him.

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