What can replace a steaming hot cup of coffee on a chilly winter morning? One of the simple pleasures of life for me is my coffee. I want it hot, right on the edge of tolerable. Some people pour coffee and sip at the cup for an hour. Ugh. Who can enjoy it once it has cooled? That lukewarm beverage reminds me of those who choose a kind of life that is safe, comfortable, and unchallenged- who have settled for duty and gave up on delight.
People who live colorless, bland, lukewarm lives without purpose or passion are a tragedy. Yes, I know that there are those who wake up to go to a job they hate, who shuffle through life just putting one foot in front of the other through one gray day after another feeling they are trapped, and I feel great compassion for them. However, there are many who choose to avoid challenge, who refuse to dream because they will not allow disappointment, whose vision is narrow and limited, because they choose that path . What a contrast we see in those people who know why they are alive, who drink deeply from the cup of life be it filled with sorrow or ecstasy. They love whole-heartedly, laugh readily, weep appropriately. They do not just exist, they live!
A soulless religion, shaped by duty, focused only around maintaining morality, that lacks any passion for Jesus Christ, is a tragedy.
Jesus looked at a church that was ‘good’ but He lamented their great lack – “I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You’re not cold, you’re not hot—far better to be either cold or hot! You’re stale. You’re stagnant. You make me want to vomit.” (Revelation 3:15-16, The Message) His words are shocking when we understand that He did not utter them to a church that was without good.
The Laodiceans were upright and hard-working people, the kind of church many a pastor would envy! But, they did not LOVE the Lord. His further appeal to them is that they return to Him, that they look up to see what they were missing in Him, and that they would allow Him to clothe them with His rich garments of grace. And then, He made this offer: “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.” (Revelation 3:20, NIV)
How long has it been since you just sat down, waiting on Jesus, and heard what He had to say to you?
Yesterday, prior to our worship at Faith Discovery, I slipped into the sanctuary to offer myself in worship, alone. I sat at the piano in that big auditorium, pouring out my praise, singing of the “Blessed Assurance” that I find in His love, singing my petition that the Holy Spirit would move on His people. I don’t know how long it was before I opened my eyes because I was lost for a few moments in His goodness; yes, in love with Jesus. What renewal was found in that loss of Self to His Spirit. In that moment I was privileged to stand before the Throne of God.
A devilish lie takes root in the souls of ‘good’ Christians, one I have known too well and too often. As sin is defeated, as we become ‘churched,’ a subtle temptation to shift focus creeps in. Faith moves from His majestic love and grace to our good works. The desperate sinner who knows her brokenness comes to worship like a thirsty person takes a glass of cold water. But, when sin is forgiven, when life has settled and God’s goodness has brought blessings, how easily that one slips into a deception of pride that replaces passionate love with soulless religion. Those faithful workers who are serving well, who show up to church activities, who tithe faithfully may lower their eyes from adoration of the Savior to look around at those who are doing little or nothing for God. In that moment the sin of the Pharisee, pride, takes root. Jesus called those ‘good’ men, and they were very religious, ‘whitewashed tombs, beautiful on the outside but full of death.’
A graceless, unloving, and joyless person is the very antithesis of an authentic Christian.
Let me be clear I am not setting up a false conflict between doing good and loving Jesus. Those who love Him most will serve Him best. But, those who forget the One who called them to His grace are apt to fall for a lukewarm “form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Timothy 3:5)
As you read this word from the Word today, pray for understanding. Stop. Look. Listen. Wait. Find your First Love.
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:14-21, NIV)
Father, I wait for You today.
Captivate my heart and mind with your Beauty.
Restore the passion of true worship to my songs,
my prayers, my service.
Let me live with love, joy, peace in full fruit,
the evidence of your Spirit-life working in me.
Jesus, my Vine, keep this branch connected
to the Life source that You are.
And, in this, Lord, Your bright radiance will
shine through me and I will fulfill that purpose given to each of us –
To glorify Your Name forever.