In my life I have noticed three kinds of Christians. There are those who have fallen back into the secular world, backsliders embracing sin but still identifying as “Christian” if asked because, well, who wants to be identified as a “sinner”? On the other side, you have the ones who are madly in love with Jesus and are committed to casting off their old flesh to know and serve the Son of God. Then, there is a curious sort in the middle who try in vain to walk the fence between the two. The bible calls these believers “the lukewarm”, neither hot nor cold for God. It is this group that may be the most tragic because they are struggling with an identity crisis. I know, because years ago I used to be one of them.
When we are stuck in between the kingdom of God and the realm of Satan, we cannot fully enjoy either one and this brings torment. It may sound strange that I would even mention enjoying the sinful world, but the fact is that a lukewarm state can actually lead to a jealousy of the things the disobedient are “having fun” doing while in opposition to God. What about the flip side? Lukewarm Christians can experience some deep droughts of faith, with dire consequences spelled out in James 1:6-8 :
“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do…”
So, the Christian on the fence can’t fully receive what the kingdom of light has to offer either and begins to lose faith as they slow down in seeking a Lord they have no passion for. The prayers that they do manage to send up on good days are not answered, leading to a reluctance to talk to the father and read His word, all the while spiraling down into a deepening whirlpool of crisis and confusion. “Can I even trust God’s word anymore?” “How do I know it’s really His word?” “Does HE even exist?” Like bath water that is left to sit or that forgotten mug of steaming hot tea, the true danger of the lukewarm state is that it won’t remain lukewarm forever. It will eventually grow cold.
So, how can we grow hot again for Jesus? Funny, I recently moved into a new apartment here in Tokyo, a very old building with a traditional style Japanese bath, or ofuro. Unlike in the west, the ofuro is not used to clean up in. The actual scrubbing is done with an attached shower head while sitting on a stool, after which the ofuro itself serves as a good soak. To be honest, when I first saw this monstrosity with its oddly shaped tub and huge silver pipes jutting out from the side, I was not impressed. Then I found out that those huge pipes were connected to a boiler that would reheat the water for other family members in a household. With the turn of a switch, the bath was hot again in 30 minutes. I actually had to switch it off early as it was approaching scalding levels of intensity.
When we turn on the fire of God in our lives the luke warm believer can be positively boiling with a renewed, fragrant love for the Creator. This comes about first by making a decision: to take the Son of God’s word as superior to the wisdom of the earth. Jesus came, died and resurrected in the same world that now says it’s OK to believe whatever you want, but when the Messiah says:
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me…” – John 14:6
“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent…” – John 17:3
“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” – Matthew 16:26
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” – Luke 6:46
…do you believe Him? Lets commit to the One that took our shame on His back and allowed sinful hands to strike His holy face. Reading the word consistently, meeting with the saints in worship, cultivating friendships with people who actually believe the same as you do: these are all steps in turning up the heat and sharing in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus. A very blessed new year of passionate life in Christ!