Jesus’ message to the Laodicean church in Revelation is stark: ‘So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.’ (Rev3:16). But how do we judge whether we are lukewarm Christians? This post presents a caricature of a lukewarm Christian, with the idea that you judge yourselves against this standard as a bit of a Christian health check. I hope you find it challenging and useful.
Lukewarm water is made up from a mixture of hot and cold water, so our lives are made up of good and bad. We all have lukewarm spots - the objective is to turn up the hot tap in order to raise the temperature! But, we can only take our own Christian temperature; we cannot and should not try to take that of others. It is Jesus who does the spitting if any spitting is to be done - not us! It is useful to judge ourselves from time to time: ‘Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.’ (2Cor13:5).
And so to the test:
1. Attend church in body, not spirit. Lukewarm people attend church fairly regularly because it is what is expected of them. It gives them a sense of balance and security. But it is for them, not for God (Isaiah 29:13; Amos 6:1; Matthew 7:21).
2. Taking and taking. Lukewarm people are happy to take from church, but are not prepared to give. They have high expectations of what church should do for them, not high aspirations about what they should be doing for church (1Cor12:12-14).
3. Comfortable giving. Lukewarm people are happy to give to the church and to the poor…until it starts to hurt. They give a section of their time, their money, and thoughts, but stop short of giving their whole selves. They will serve God and others, but there are limits to how much energy they will give (1 Chronicles 21:24; Luke 9:57-62; Luke 21:1-4; Rom 12:1-2).
4. Armchair Christianity. Lukewarm people are moved by stories about people who do things for God, yet they do not act (Matthew 16:24; James 1:22).
5. Afraid to share. Lukewarm people rarely share their faith with friends, colleagues and neighbours. They are worried about being rejected or making others feel uncomfortable. (Matthew 10:32-33).
6. Easy standards. Lukewarm people test themselves against the standards of non-believers. They feel satisfied when they are not as bad as the norms of behaviour set by society. They tend to choose what is popular over what is right, and care more about what others think of their actions than what God thinks (Luke 6:26; Luke 18:11-12; Rev. 3:1; Matthew 23:5-7).
7. Conditional love. Lukewarm people love God, but not with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength. They love others, but not as much as they love themselves. Their love is conditional and is cooled when they don’t receive what they expect or ‘deserve’ from God or others (Matthew 5:43-47; Matthew 22:37-38; Luke 14:12-14).
8. Earthly thinking. Lukewarm people think about earthly things much more often than heavenly things. They are more interested in storing up treasure on earth than in heaven. They rarely consider the life to come (Matthew 6:19-21; Philippians 3:18-20; Colossians 3:2).
9. No room at the inn for God’s spirit. Lukewarm people are not striving to be a home for God’s spirit. Their lives show a glowing ember that is lacking the fan and fuel to make a fire. They have no enthusiasm for the things of God (Luke3:16; 1Cor3:16).
10. Pushing boundaries. Lukewarm people tend to ask “how far can I go before this becomes a sin” rather than “what can I do to serve God better” (1 Chronicles 29:14; Matthew 13:44-46).
11. Self-reliance. Lukewarm people do not depend on God; they rely on their wealth and social network to meet their daily needs. They walk by sight, not by faith (Luke 12:16-21; 2Cor 5:7; Hebrews 11).
12. Pretty much average. Lukewarm people probably drink and swear a bit less than average. But they aren’t very different from your typical person on the street (Matthew 23:25-28, Col 3:5-10).
The objective of this post is to be a vehicle to prompt you to challenge yourself. It should not leave you feeling completely downcast and hopeless. Remember that we are all lukewarm to a degree, and that by the grace of God we are saved, not because of self-obtained virtue!
Image credit: Youtube.