I’m driving and suddenly notice my mouth feels like cotton. I see an inviting half-empty water bottle sitting in the cup holder next to me. Grabbing it, I take a deep swig to alleviate the starchy feeling in my mouth—only to gag, nearly spitting it out all over the car! Choking it down so as not to make a mess, I now recognize this water has been sitting here far too long, giving it a metallic and lukewarm distaste.
The disgustingly stale and bitter taste of lukewarm water lacked the desired refreshment I was seeking. Drinking stagnant water is neither pleasantly soothing like a nice cup of fresh brewed hot tea, nor briskly refreshing like ice cold water from the tap.
In Revelation chapter three, we discover a church named Laodicea whose attendees were neither hot nor cold in their faith. They had become lukewarm at best—a self-sufficient church body of people, wealthy in material possessions, blending in with the rest of the worldly crowd, being overly prideful of their ability to need absolutely nothing. They looked successful on the outside, boasting through selfies on Instagram and Facebook with their wealthy church programs, priding themselves on being “hip” with the rest of the crowd. They assimilated to the cultural norms so as not to ruffle any feathers, looking neither zealous nor completely dead. Ok perhaps the part about the selfies was my own modern day exaggerated view of this church.
Yet I bet there are many of us who can relate to this complacency of our own faith that these church members thousands of years ago had as well?
Perhaps you attend church on Sunday’s merely to check off your “spiritual check-list” because that’s what Christians do. Or you go to work and try to completely blend in with the rest of the crowd so as not to look overly spiritual from others. Or maybe you think about how great it is when others go out and serve the community through service projects, yet that’s just not your cup of tea. Therefore, you become indifferent; too busy creating a self-made life of comforts and pursuing your own agendas.
When we allow our own self-sufficiency to take over instead of allow a God-sufficient perspective to penetrate our lives, we create a false reality that we don’t really need God in our lives, except as a get-out-of-hell free card.
Sometimes other things take our focus away from what we need most—Jesus. You allow desire for wealth, fame, or success to creep into your priority list leaving you stagnant in your faith. You stop growing spiritually, stop desiring to read Gods word, stop praying and serving others in your church. You still believe in God, yet your stagnant faith begins to leave a distaste—perhaps still not noticed by you.
The people of this Laodicean church assimilated with the culture around them—they integrated, adapted, conformed to—instead of permeating the culture with their love and belief of Jesus. They became complacent in their spiritual walk with Christ, allowing other things of the world or their own selfish desires to take priority over Christ. They became lukewarm, which was distasteful in the eyes of Jesus.
So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:16)
When we spend more time thinking about ourselves and pursuing our own desires, our spiritual muscles become stagnant. When we avoid spending time with God digging into His word, forgetting to communicate to Him through prayer regularly, and we lack the desire to come together as the body of Christ we become spiritually weak (1 Cor. 12:27). We stop doing our part for His kingdom work here on earth (whether big or small) and in return our faith grows stagnantly lukewarm. We become content with sitting on the sidelines drinking our stale water, allowing others to not only do the work God’s called us to do, but we also forgo the soul-filling experiences God desires us to have!
Lukewarm water is disgustful to drink. Stagnant water in a marsh sitting for months or years brings a musty stench to our senses. Drink it and it can be enough to make one’s belly sick and vomit like a dog.
God calls us to be a group of people whom actively display love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) He calls us as believers to be in the world—permeating Christ’s love to others—but not of the world—conforming to the worlds standards for living a life fully dependent on ourselves and according to our selfish motives. (Romans 12:2)
Is it time for you to get off the sidelines of self-sufficiency and complacency with your faith?
The more Gods word pours into you, the more His refreshing spirit will flow out of you. Do not assimilate. Do not segregate. Permeate by being an example of the richness of God’s love and salvation in your life.