Profile of the Lukewarm

So chapter 4 is where things start to get a little bit painful in "Crazy Love," a little bit personal. The first 3 chapters were basically telling us who God is; now it is time for us to tell God who we are. It talks about what most of the people in today's American church look like, and then contrasts that with what Jesus looks like, what everyone who follows Christ should look like.

Looking at the Parable of the Sower, Chan has one line that really struck me, "Do not assume you are good soil." Don't think that because you call yourself Christian that you are the seed that grows well and is not killed off by a shallow faith or the thorns of worry, money, or addiction. Being a Christian is not simply a matter of believing Jesus lived and died a sinless life, then rose from the grave. James 2:19 proves that believing in one God is not enough to get you into heaven, for the demons even believe that. Being a Christian is about picking up your cross daily and modeling your life after the only man who was ever truly worthy of God's love, making your own life one of complete self-denial and unending love and sacrifice for those deemed "unlovable" by this world. Being a Christian is not a "get out of Hell free card" for being a Christian is not necessarily free; the gift of salvation is free, yes, but in the eyes of this world you should be giving up every pleasure you have, losing your life for the sake of Jesus. A life totally committed to following Jesus is a tough life; everyone in the world will reject you for the way you live ("the world" meaning those who live for this world, not for God's kingdom).

Acts 11:26 says that it was at the church in Antioch where the people were first called Christians. Note that it does not say that the people called themselves Christians, but rather the people of the city, the Gentiles, those that did not believe in God, called them Christians. The term Christian literally means a follower of Christ, "little Christ." The Gentiles literally saw Jesus in the people of this church, THAT'S how radically different these people lived from the world. That is how we have been called to live, but this is not how most people in the American church live.

It's certainly not even how I live. Now I would not say that I'm quite as lukewarm as many people in the church, but in various aspects of my life I am quite lukewarm in my faith. In Revelation, to the church in Laodicea, Jesus says that he will spit out of his mouth those who are lukewarm. It sounds tough, but these are the literal words of Jesus, they are red in my Bible! Jesus says that not everyone who calls of the name of the Lord will get into Heaven, and this letter emphasizes that point so heavily. This may sting to many, but Jesus makes it very clear: lukewarm "Christians" are really not Christians much at all.

So some of the things that define a "lukewarm Christian" are thus: they go to church because they feel like it's something all Christians should do; similarly they give out of obligation or expecting reward; they say that they love God, but only to those who they know would say the same to them; they try not to sin, but only to escape the punishment of Hell; they trust that God will provide for them, but just in case they build up their own reserves; they compare their "godliness" in the lens of the secular world, saying that as long as they aren't as bad as another guy they know, they are good. They don't view their godliness through the lens of God, knowing that they are just as filthy as everyone else. They don't truly give up control to God, knowing that He WILL provide for us whatever we need, just like HE provides for all the birds in the air. They don't genuinely hate their sin and actively seek to rid themselves of everything that could even tempt them, and when they are tempted they don't think its too bad if they fall because they know that God will forgive them. In general, they don't give their all to God because there is just too much on this earth for them to worry about, to enjoy. Living a life for God is just too hard here on earth, unless God has called you to be a pastor or missionary.

But here's the thing: God HAS called you to be a missionary. If God has called you into His kingdom at all, He does want you to be a minister. Now you may not have been called to dedicate your life to the aid of sex trafficking victims in eastern Europe or to the starving children in Africa or to the severely oppressed in southeast Asia. But you have been called to the community you currently live in, regardless of any other circumstances. In all situations, with all kinds of people, you have been called to be a light to the community, to share the Good News of Jesus with anyone and everyone, even if they don't want to hear it. A true Christian simply cannot stop himself from talking about Jesus, because he is not just a "part" of their life, Jesus IS their life. Like the people of Antioch, we should strive to have our lives changed so radically, and our actions to look so vastly different from this world, that people who don't even know you can look at you and say that you are a Christian.

You shouldn't need a cross on your neck, or a tattoo of your favorite verse, or a Bible in your back pocket for people to know you are a Christian. Let your actions reflect Christ in all that you do, let God's purpose for your life also be your purpose, and then you will be prosperous and successful in the Kingdom of God.