A couple months ago while reading in Revelation I came across a verse that said “So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” (Rev. 3:16) It really stuck with me and keeps coming back into my mind on almost a daily basis since the first time I read it.
In this chapter, John is writing letters to the different churches using the words that God is telling him to write. Just imagine that. The most powerful One telling you that He is going to spit you out of His mouth – as if you are a sip of bitter, lukewarm coffee.
If you search the word lukewarm on Merriam-Webster, you’ll find two definitions. One being the obvious “moderately warm” temperature definition, and the other “lacking conviction; half hearted.”
When the Lord placed this verse on my heart, I had to stop and analyze my life for a long time. Where was I making this mistake? Where were my actions not matching up with my words? How was I being lukewarm, both spiritually, and in everything else? What places was I only applying my half-hearted effort? Honestly, I was probably as lukewarm as you could be. Exteriorly I was on fire. Constantly talking about Jesus, constantly listening to praise & worship music, constantly speaking as if I had it all figured out. But behind closed doors, my relationship with God was almost non existent. I didn’t set time apart each day to spend one on one with Him, I wasn’t praying nearly as much as I should have been. This single verse left me feeling completely convicted.
Having a relationship with God that is not lukewarm comes with a price of complete surrender. And let me tell you, it’s tough. I like to be in control of every situation, but to take everything and place it in the hands of someone else? It’s the last thing I wanted to. Surrendering everything to Christ can mean losing a LOT of friends, it can mean giving up a certain social ranking, and it will definitely bring persecution on you. You are going completely against societal norms and abiding by a totally different way of life. But yet, it is the most beautiful and freeing experience. To place all of your trust in the One who holds all of the stars in His hands… He has infinitely more power and knowledge than I do and will never do anything that is not for my own good. (Romans 8:28)
It breaks my heart to look around at so many people in the church and see such a lack of conviction. It’s almost as if Christianity has become more of a fad, or a social act, than a personal relationship with Christ. As Christians we are called to be set apart. When we are completely surrendered to Christ and completely consumed by him, it shows to everyone around us. You can physically see a difference in those kinds of people. But so many churches have become so relaxed with their rules in todays culture that the individuals within them begin to look exactly like the ones out in the world. There are so many things that are accepted and even practiced by Christians that years ago would have caused a complete uproar within the church. And the saddest part is, often times you are seen as stingy by the younger generations if you do not agree with them.
The church in Laodicea that John writes to in Revelation 3 relies on two cities for their water supply. On one side of the city of Laodicea, there is Hierapolis, with hot springs. On the other is Colossae, with very cold water. The problem was that by the time the water from these cities reached Laodicea, it was no longer its original temperature, but was now lukewarm. So when the church is also accused of being lukewarm, they are pretty much being called useless. They do not have the healing properties that hot water possesses, nor do they have the refreshing qualities of cold water. They were completely ineffective and purposeless.
God does not want lukewarm followers. Be hot or cold – don’t sit on the fence! You can be like a healing hot spring, or a refreshing glass of ice water on a hot day, but being in between is absolutely no good. The world has enough people who are mediocre. It needs people to be inspirations, to be leaders, to be spiritual warriors. It needs people who are fulfilling the purposes set out for their life, rather than just being useless.
1 John 2:15-16 says “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – comes not from the Father but from the world.” You can’t have one foot in a relationship with God and the other foot in the world – its all or nothing. And let me tell you – God is so much more fulfilling than anything the world can offer. So many people today think that as long as you go to church on Sundays, as long as you know the right things to say all the time, that you are good to go. But that is such a slippery slope to walk on.(Check out James 2:14-26 – “Faith without deeds is dead.”) I know personally, I don’t want to live my life doing the bare minimum to stand before God at the end of it and hear Him say that He never knew me. (Matt. 7:23) I would rather deal with saying no to people or missing out on certain things that “everyone else is doing” than never have a relationship with my heavenly Father.
And another big thing is – choose your closest friends wisely. I know, you’ve probably heard that so many times that it is starting to get redundant, but it is so so so important. Paul warns in 1 Corinthians that bad company corrupts good character (15:33) and this is a verse that one should always keep in mind. Sure, those friends you hang out with might not be a problem now, but it is so much easier for them to drag you down than it is for you to bring them up. Human beings thrive on relationships with others and they can truly make or break your life if you get involved with the wrong people. Surround yourself with people who raise you up, who support every aspect of your walk with Christ, who confront you with honesty when they see you slipping. The people who encourage you to go deeper are the people you need to keep the closest. Search for the ones who are genuine, who are true, who are going to better you.
I encourage you that wherever you are in your walk of faith, to just pause and analyze it. Are you doing it for yourself, or are you doing it for the kingdom? Do your actions and your heart match the things that you are saying? Don’t get caught up with the world. There are so many distractions, so many things that will call your name and beg for your attention. But nothing will ever satisfy you like God will. You get to make the choice, and it’s all or nothing.