The world is extremely divided. God is allowing things to happen that challenge the strongest in the Faith. Opportunities abound for us to lose hope in a way that God never intended. What is at the heart of it all?
I posted on this subject in a Podcast and one of our daily memos written by Francis Chan. This is how he profiled the lukewarm Christian. Someone who attends church regularly, but it’s what’s expected of them. They believe good Christians should do so. They give money to a charity or the church if it doesn’t impinge on their standard of living. If they have a little extra and it’s easy and safe to give, then they’ll do it. This doesn’t apply to everyone but does require serious consideration.
There’s a desire to fit in both at church and outside of church, caring more about what people think of their actions than what God thinks of their hearts and their lives. That’s evident in much of society now. We make it about people pleasing and performance. If you go to our website, we have a research study posted that The Barna Group did some time ago. It chronicles the transformational journey that any Christian goes through. A key part of that journey is getting stuck in a works-oriented space. Understanding this helps us to orient ourselves to what Francis is saying here. They don’t really want to be saved from their sin; they want only to be saved from the penalty of sin.
That’s an interesting perspective because there’s no genuine repentance and turning away from sin. It’s being fearful of the outcome. That’s not a great place to live. Right?
Lukewarm Christians are often moved by stories about people who do radical things for Christ, yet they don’t act. As if to say, “That’s for them. It’s not really, for me. I’m not quite in the flow of my faith that way.” They rarely share their faith with their neighbors, coworkers, or friends. They don’t want to be rejected nor do they want to make people uncomfortable by talking about private issues like religion, lumping that into the category of politics. So, they avoid it.
We all know people with that concern. I had that concern myself for years and years and years. Part of my survival was all about just getting my own needs met in the way of the world. I totally get this. For a good chunk of my life, I lived in this kind of lukewarm territory, especially as I was pursuing things here on earth, rather than pursuing the things above.
Another description of the lukewarm Christian is they gauge their morality or goodness by comparing themselves to the secular world. That’s huge right now. Folks feel satisfied that they’re nowhere as horrible as the guy down the street. I’m a Christian, I’m not stealing or killing or having an affair on my wife. I’m not doing some of these things that I see other people doing so, I’m good to go. Not quite as bad as them, maybe not as good as other people, but that’s okay.
Lukewarm Christians say they love Jesus and he’s part of their lives, but only a part. They give Him a section of their time, money, thoughts, but he really isn’t allowed to control their lives. That’s a dangerous place to live. You become more vulnerable to the ways of the world and to spiritual attacks that come from an enemy that hates you. On the other hand, if lukewarm, we’re not living out our faith. The enemy is not nearly as concerned about how dangerous for good we could be. He’s likely paying more attention to others who are committed to their faith, but as a lukewarm Christian, the Bible is clear about this, it’s just not a place that we want to live.
Lukewarm Christians love God, but they do not love him with all their heart, soul, and strength because it’s easier to focus on the things of this world and getting our needs met in our own way. I remember I used to say I’m 90% committed to God, but this other 10% I want to hold on to. I am not ready to give this area of my life up. And if I’m honest, it was likely the reverse. I’m telling myself it’s 10%, the reality is more like 90%. I have control.
Lukewarm Christians love others, but they do not seek to love others as much as they love themselves. As part of the Barna research study that I referred to, there are 10 stops in this transformational journey and only 89% of Christians get beyond a place where their commitment is simply doing for God. I would put lukewarm in that same category. The greatest command that Jesus ever taught us was to love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and secondly to love your neighbor as yourself. How many of us, given the opportunity, live this out in our daily walk with Him?
The Bible is very clear. It tells us in Revelation that God detests lukewarmness, he even warns against it. “Because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” That sounds harsh but remember, Jesus left the glory of heaven and willingly shed his blood on the cross for us. He loves us that much. How can we remain indifferent to Him? That’s just not the way we want to live out this dash on our tombstone – this in-between life.
He is calling us into the battle. It’s no time to sit on the sidelines. If the description of lukewarm Christian is relatable for you, it’s okay. God wants to forgive you, draw you closer to Himself. Look at your own life and ask the question. Am I compromised? Am I getting up in the morning and chasing the dream without looking at the consequences of doing so?
As Christians, we don’t get to sit on the sidelines. Proverbs 4:23 says, “guard your heart with all diligence for from it flows the wellspring of life”. That’s one translation. King James says, “keep thy heart with all diligence for out of it, are the issues of life”. The New International Version states, “above all else, guard your heart for everything you do flows from it.”
Understand that part of the strategy of the enemy is to take on your heart and bring discouragement, bring separation between you and Him. That’s spiritual warfare.
If you look at the original text – the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible) one definition is frourá, a noun. It’s a person who stayed on watch at a guard post like a modern Sentinel. That’s how critical it is that we stay on point, on guard. It speaks of guarding something in one’s possession. Watching something precious, continuously observing, and being attentive. It’s a present imperative. It’s a command calling us to make this, our habitual practice of guarding.
How critical is that? We should go about our business in a way that God is first and foremost. We can’t allow this sneaking in of the enemy to assault and annihilate our hearts. Our heart is a precious thing. The wellspring of life flows from it. The heart is where everything comes from. And if we don’t guard that we will be susceptible to the idea of this lukewarmness to which I’m referring.
It’s necessary to guard our heart for several reasons, but let’s simplify – because your heart is extremely valuable. We don’t guard worthless things. I take my garbage out to the street every Monday, except holidays. Now it sits on the sidewalk all night, completely unguarded. Why is that? Well, because it’s worthless. That’s not the case with your heart. It’s essential for each of you. It is your authentic self. The core of your being it’s where all your dreams, your desires, your passions live. It is that part of you that connects with God and other people. So just like your physical body if your heart, your spiritual heart dies, your leadership dies.
Make it your top priority because your heart is the source of everything you do. King Solomon said it’s the wellspring of life. In other words, it’s a source of everything else in your life – your heart overflows into thoughts, words, and actions. And why does he say it? Is it because it’s not an issue? No, because it IS an issue. Your heart is under constant attack. When Solomon said to guard your heart, he implies that you are living in a combat zone. One in which there are casualties. Far too often we’re oblivious to the reality of this war. And it’s why, when I talk about lukewarm Christianity, there is a war raging around us. We don’t even know it. We don’t understand the implications of that and end up putting ourselves in a place where we’re vulnerable and our heart becomes weakened. Our commitment to Christ becomes weakened and we compromise. There’s no place for that in the world today. People are fearful and in need of a Savior. Many simply don’t know it.
So here’s my challenge to you. Pray against it. One of my mentors suggested this recently. When you get up in the morning, consecrate your mental life to Jesus every day. Every day consecrate your mental life to Jesus. Your memory, your recall, your mental resilience to be one mind with Christ, especially since our minds and our hearts are under assault. We must keep Him at the center. Affirm your commitment to Him, ask Him to heal your heart, ask Him to bring about an understanding of what that looks like individually in your life and how it’s being derailed by the enemy.
God will heal you through it. Just ask Him. Make it your daily prayer.
God, heal my heart, guard it against the wiles of the enemy, and bring about a recommitment to my faith out of lukewarmness into the light.
Blessings to you all, Steve