What an interesting point. The author points out that we are driven by numbers, numbers impress us. “We gauge the success of an event by how many people attend or come forward We measure churches by how many members they boast.” Yet, like he says, in Luke 8, Jesus speaks in parables so that those who weren’t genuinely listening wouldn’t get it. How interesting. What if I had been there, would I have been one that was interested, or one that was left out because I was there, but only in body. What about today? Are there things I miss out on because I am only here, on this earth, as a body, forgetting the spirit part of me? I can only get what I need by looking for it, watching for it, paying attention. Jesus is looking for me to be a genuine listener.
The author asks, “Has your relationship with God actually changed the way you live? Do you see evidence of God’s Kingdom in your life? Or are you choking it out slowly by spending too much time, energy, money, and thought on the things of this world?” What good questions. I definitely see a change in the way I live because of my relationship with God. I also see evidence of His kingdom in my life. The third question could be a little harder to answer. I don’t think I spend too much money or thought on this world. Sometimes I feel like I put too much energy into this world. But I think the thing that I loose most to this world is my time. I think it’s because this world is so much more real than the spiritual world. This world is constantly making demands. I try to balance it, but sometimes I think I fail. Funny, I kinda know when I have though. Just like tonight. I realized that it has been a while since I sunk my teeth into something related to God. That was why I picked the book back up.
More questions from the author, “Are you satisfied being “godly enough” to get yourself to heaven, or to look good in comparison to others?” I don’t really ever think I’m “godly enough.” I’m not satisfied with where I am or with the fleshly natures that seem to be so hard to over come. I think sometimes I do think about looking good in comparison to others. I think it is so much easier to see the weaknesses of other’s than it is to see my own. And it always seems easier for them to fix their problem than for me to fix mine. Of course, because to fix their problem doesn’t require anything of me. To fix my own … that’s another story.
The author has several scriptures listed describing lukewarm people. He asks that I take an “honest look at” my “life. Not who” I “want to be one of these days, but who” I am “now and how” I am “living today.”
Wow, this might take a bit to look over. I can see by glancing over some of these, this is going to be a very convicting chapter. I’m going to take some time to look them over, and really try to give an honest answer, even if it hurts.
Here is a paraphrased version of some of the questions:
- Do I go to church fairly regularly? Do I go because it’s what is expected of me? When I’m there, is my heart really there when I worship?
- Do I give money when it doesn’t impinge on my standard of living, when it’s safe to give?
- Do I choose what is popular over what is right when they are in conflict? Do I try to fit in both at church and outside the church? Do I care more about what people think of my actions than what God thinks of my hearts and life?
- Do I really want to be saved from my sins, or from the penalty of my sin? Do I genuinely hate sin? Am I truly sorry for it? Do I truly believe this new life is better than the old one?
- I am moved by radical things done for Christ? Do I act on that? Are those things really radical or just what Jesus expected of all His followers?
- Do I rarely share my faith with neighbors, coworkers, or friends? Am I worried about being rejected or making people uncomfortable by talking about private issues like religion?
- Do I compare my goodness factor by looking at people in the secular world? Do I feel satisfied that even though I am not as hard-core for Jesus as that person, I’m not as horrible as the guy down the street?
- Do I say I love Jesus but He isn’t allowed to control my life? Do I only give Him a section of my time, my money, and my thoughts?
- Do I really love God with all my heart, soul, and strength? Do I try to love Him that much? Do I think it’s more for pastors and missionaries and radicals to be able to do that?
- Do I want to love others, but don’t seek to love them as much as I love myself? Do I only love those who love me? Do I only love those I know and am connected too? Do I love those you intentionally slight me? Does my love come with strings attached?
- Am I limited on how far I will go or how much time, money, and energy I am willing to serve God?
- Do I think about life on earth much more than eternity in heaven? Is my daily life focused on today’s to-do-list, this week’s schedule, and next month’s vacation?
- Am I thankful for my luxuries and comforts? Do I rarely consider giving as much as possible to the poor?
- Do I do what ever is necessary to keep myself from feeling too guilty? Do I do just what I have to to be good enough? Do I think about how far I can go before it becomes a sin? Do I think about how much am I supposed to give? Do I think about how much time I am supposed to spend in the Bible and prayer?
- Am I concerned with playing it safe? I am worried about getting out of control? Do I focus on safe living?
- Do I feel secure because I attend church, made a profession faith, was baptized, come from a Christian family, vote a certain way, or live in America?
- Do I have a structured life so I don’t have to live by faith? Do I feel safe because I have a savings account? Because I have a retirement plan? Do I have my life figured out and mapped out? Would my life look that much different if I suddenly stopped believing in God?
- Do I drink and swear less than other people, or less than I did before? Am I really different from an unbeliever?
The scriptures listed to go with those are Isa 29:13; 1 Chron 21:24; Luke 21:1-4; Rev 3:1; Matthew 23:5-7; John 10:10; Romans 6:1-2; James 1:22; James 4:17; Matthew 21:28-31; Matthew 10:32-33; Luke 18:11-12; Luke 9:57-62; Matthew 22:37-38; Matthew 5:43-47; Luke 14:12-14; Luke 18: 21-25; Phil 3:18-20; Col 3:2; Matt 25:34, 40; Isa 58:6-7; 1 Chron 29:14; Matt 13:44-46; 1 Tim 6:17-18; Matt 10:28; Matt 7:21; Amos 6:1; Luke 12:16-21 and Hebrews 11; Matt 23:25-28.
(If you are reading this, I don’t think you can get the full picture without reading the book, but I think these questions could really make you stop and think. These are all things that a “lukewarm” Christian would think or do.)
2 Corinthians 13:5 (Amplified Bible) “5Examine and test and evaluate your own selves to see whether you are holding to your faith and showing the proper fruits of it. Test and prove yourselves [[a]not Christ]. Do you not yourselves realize and know [thoroughly by an ever-increasing experience] that Jesus Christ is in you–unless you are [counterfeits] disapproved on trial and rejected?”
The author points out that “no one is totally immune to the behaviors described” above. But “there is a difference between a life that is characterized by these sorts of mentalities and habits and a life that is in the process of being radically transformed.”
Wow, this is such a good analogy that I have to re-print it word for word:
“When I was in high school, I seriously considered joining the Marines; this was when they first came out with the commercials for “the few, the proud, the Marines.” What turned me off was that in those advertisements, everyone was always running. Always. And I hate running.
But you know what? I didn’t bother to ask if they would modify the rules for me so I could run less, and maybe also do fewer push-ups. That would’ve been pointless and stupid, and I knew it. Everyone knows that if you sign up for the Marines, you have to do whatever they tell you. They owe you.
Somehow this realization does not cross over to our thinking about the Christian life. Jesus didn’t say that if you wanted to follow Him you could do it in a lukewarm manner. He said, “Take up your cross and follow me.””
Wow! … Wow! …
In Luke 14:33 Jesus says, ” 33So then, any of you who does not forsake (renounce, surrender claim to, give up, [a]say good-bye to) all that he has cannot be My disciple.”
In Luke 14:34-35 He says, “34Salt is good [an excellent thing], but if salt has lost its strength and has become saltless (insipid, flat), how shall its saltness be restored? 35It is fit neither for the land nor for the manure heap; men throw it away. He who has ears to hear, let him listen and consider and comprehend by hearing!”
The author ends this chapter with this, “When salt is salty, it helps manure become good fertilizer … but lukewarm and uncommitted faith is completely useless. It can’t even benefit manure.”
I sure have a lot to think about. I whole lot … Well, I need to do more than think about it, I need to act on it.