It's disappointing to God that most people are usually more concerned about what they want in life than asking him what he requires of them. Since our eyes were opened in the garden, our fleshly nature specializes in the skills of compromising and justifying. Self-deception is common. Only a few will take the responsibility to obey him and get serious about dedicating their lives to being a living sacrifice for him. Yes, included with the blessings of this life is being accountable.
You might have heard the unpopular verse found in Revelation 3:16 where John relays what Jesus thinks about the church at Laodicea. "So then, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth."
We realize parables and analogies are common in the Bible, and without trying to explain the different interpretations of what this verse means, let's just say that we want our coffee hot and our iced tea, well ... cold. Within the context, Jesus is referring to their attitude. In short, he was saying their hearts were in a state of being lackadaisical, apathetic and lethargic. And not just this certain group. He is using them as an example of the dangers of backsliding when anyone takes their eyes away from his truth and drifts into the temptations of carnality.
Let us not forget that he is speaking to members of an established Christian church who were supposedly followers of Jesus and his teachings. This letter to Laodicea is the harshest of the seven churches that are mentioned in chapters two and three. There is no beating around the bush on his disappointment. He is warning them about trying to make the Christian life into a comfortable social club. By his judgment of their works, he makes it clear this is a dead church.
What does this mean, and can it happen today? Definitely. Whenever the members of an assembly see themselves as independent, materialistic and self-sufficient, they have already slipped into a state of religious indifference.
Jesus continues to be more specific using cutting words such as wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. Their lukewarm faith had become hypocritical. The lifeless atmosphere of the services was the result of a lack of enthusiasm and passion for Christ in their minds and hearts. They had become backslidden, and maybe there were a number of individuals who had never been converted and were just pretending to be Christians.
It's not an exciting topic, but there is such a thing as people who practice a form of religion but their conscience is one of self-righteous complacency. They claim to be taking up their cross and following Jesus, but their hearts are unchanged, and their game-playing is sickening to God.
Many of us have been blessed beyond measure, but having daily quiet times where we pray and worship God can help us remain humble and aware of the holy respect of his presence that is so vital to our intimate relationship with him. Just because we have resources does not mean we are to rely on them more than our faith. Instead of being proud of what we have accomplished let us realize that everything we have has been graciously given to us by the one who owns everything.
In modern language, God offers us salvation through Christ, and this gift of grace allows us to be transformed into a new person. Our spiritual identity goes from being blind and lost to being filled with hope and joy that we have been rescued to do his will. Changing our mind changes our attitude.
A common defense of being lukewarm is that it does not matter. This is not true! Being backslidden is a big deal. When we lose our sensitivity and no longer feel convicted by the Holy Spirit, we are in serious danger. Becoming spiritually numb causes us to not care how our sin affects those who see it, including God himself. We do not realize the impact our halfhearted attempt of being a follower of Christ has on everyone. If demonstrating God's character and accomplishing his will is not our purpose, what is?
Accepting Christ is not all there is to salvation. It's just the beginning. It's an opportunity and a privilege to serve him. Like Laodicea, the Lord is demanding for us to repent and get back on the straight and narrow. He is long-suffering toward the lukewarm, and forgiveness is available today, but we must see our need and call on him.
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