I don’t usually blog about the sermon that was preached at my church, but where God has my heart lately and the sermon preached by my pastor intersected, so I am going to blog it. My church has been going through the first three chapters of Revelation, through the seven churches, and I was especially looking forward to the seventh church, that of Laodicea. It addresses something I struggle with in my heart for those I love, for my culture.
I have struggled with the salvation of those around me, so much so that I had studied decisional salvation and lordship salvation which is what sparked my previous blog post on that subject. While that answered a lot of questions that I had about the salvation of those closest to me, it also showed me how much our culture impacts our view of Christianity.
Laodicea is said to have been an affluent, wealthy society. It is said that the people were highly educated and influential. The homes that have been found in excavation have been huge for that time period (several thousand square feet) and had indoor plumbing. The city was highly developed and commerce driven. Sound like anywhere you know? It sounds similar to America to me. While most places surrounding them had houses of several hundred square feet, theirs were several thousand. While people in the areas around them were in need, they were rich. They were proud.
“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” Revelation 3:14-22
I grew up believing I was a Christian. It was like it was part of the culture, most people considered themselves a Christian whether they attended a church or not. I have loved ones who do not attend a church, do not read the Bible, pray to make requests of God, and believe themselves to be a Christian. They believe they are going to heaven. I use the phrase that ‘they believe’ not in a way of insinuating that they are not, I have no way to know as I cannot know hearts as Jesus does. I am also not saying that being a Christian is about what you do, you cannot earn salvation through attending church, reading the Bible, or praying. It is about your heart, your heart being broken over your sin and turning to Jesus. Realizing that you can never be good enough and that it is by grace alone that He created a way for us to be a child of God through His sacrifice on the cross. What I do know is that I was the same way. I grew up believing that I was a Christian, it was as matter of fact, like that I am American. I see this same matter-of-factness in my loved ones association with Christianity. Now that I am a Christian I see that I was not before several years ago. Even though I believed in Jesus’ existence and prayed to ask things of Him, there was no relationship. The Bible says that even demons believe in Jesus, so what sets a Christian apart if even demons believe? Worship. When I first became a Christian I struggled with what was suddenly different. I had always considered myself a Christian, so why was this so new? I felt God whisper the answer to my heart when I read James 2:19, the difference was worship. The demons do not worship Christ, just as I had not been, but they know that He is real and therefore intellectually believe in Him. The other part of matter-of-factness “Christianity” is being lukewarm. When we intellectually assent to Christ’s existence and sacrifice but are not worshiping, then we are not cold (as in against Christianity or not believing in Christ) and we are not hot (on fire for Christ and seeking relationship with Him), we are lukewarm. The example was used today of coffee, people either like hot coffee or iced coffee, not lukewarm coffee. As a society overall we are rich, we can provide for ourselves and therefore pridefully do not recognize our need for Christ. Even if we spent our entire lives living in a beautiful house, having nice clothes and possessions, always having enough food, and being generous here and there with our wealth, we are still wretched, poor, blind, and pitiable to Jesus. We are wretched outside of Him. We are spiritually poor and blind. We are pitiable because He has so much more for us and yet we do not humble ourselves before Him in order that we may share in it. Lukewarmness, being on the fence, not worshiping, cultural Christianity is so repulsive to Jesus that He says He will spit us out of His mouth. And yet He still follows that with saying that He is still knocking on the door and anyone who hears His voice and opens the door, He will come in and have a relationship with.
There are areas in my walk with Jesus where I am lukewarm, where I need Him to light a flame, and I believe there always will be until I am in heaven therefore I repent and ask Jesus to grow me. I believe one area of lukewarmness is American cultural Christianity. It is almost like the subject was too close to home to want to delve into, or maybe because it seems there are so many resources at our disposal in America, nonetheless a person void of a relationship with Jesus is heartbreaking whether they are living in a mansion or in a hut in a third world country. But, my lukewarmness is not about my relationship with Him, I am not on the fence about whether or not I want Him or need Him in my life. I love Him and desperately want Him in my life. I recognize my need for Him. I pray for that same zealousness for Jesus in my loved ones. I want them to experience Him, to experience His love and His healing.