Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Is He Getting Ready To Spit?

Dear Friends,

One of the frequently misused scriptures that we well-meaning Christians quote is Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Many of us have lifted this verse out of context as we use it to encourage non-believers to open the door to Jesus and invite Him into their lives. But while we may apply this scripture to non-believers, the truth is that Jesus was not talking to them. If you don’t believe me, go get your Bible or click on the link and read Revelation 3:14-22 for yourself. Go ahead. I’ll wait right here for you...

In these scriptures, Jesus is rebuking the “lukewarm church.” We’d love to translate that word “church” to mean the institutional church so that we can pretend it doesn’t apply to us, but the word used is “ekklesia” meaning the assembly of Christian believers. The congregation. The body of Christ. Us good, church-goin’ Christians. Jesus is talking to you and me.

Another scripture that should bring great comfort to our souls or strike terror in our hearts is 2 Corinthians 5:9-10. I wish the Lord would just judge me on my church attendance. In the eight years I’ve been your pastor, I’ve only missed church twice. I wish that the Lord would just judge me on my Bible knowledge. Just those two should definitely be worth some heavenly brownie points. But in Rev 3:15, Jesus somewhat ominously says to us, “I know your works..” In last week’s AMEN Corner, I wrote: “A Christian lifestyle of good works toward others flows out of our relationship with Jesus, so if there is no evidence of Christ-like behavior in our lives, are we then just Christians in name only?” Another cringe-worthy scripture is “faith is dead without good works” James 2:26 NLT and now we find Jesus speaking to Christians whose faith has become deadened.

Jesus is saying that your faded faith has closed a door between you and Me and He’s talking to Christians who were once on fire for the Lord. Believers whose passion for God once burned hotly in their spirit. The scriptures came alive for them and they were excited when God’s Word spoke to a specific circumstance or a situation they were struggling with. They were not just spectators at a Sunday service, they were participants in their church’s ministry. They enthusiastically supported their brothers and sisters in the body of Christ with their time and energy and finances. They were eager to help others less fortunate than they were. 

And then the fire cooled. The passion faded. Their Bible was no longer on the table by their chair, but lived in the back seat of the car where it could be easily found on a Sunday morning in the rush to church. And to apathetic Christians who have become comfortable in their complacency, the words of Jesus are graphic and direct. “..because you are lukewarm..I’m going to vomit you out of My mouth.” Rev 3:16

But wait a minute! I thought Jesus loves me? Yes He does. And it is because of His love for us that He wants us to passionately embrace our faith. That’s why He says, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent and I’m going to stand right here and knock on your door until you do.” Rev 3:19-20

Where are you on the “Zealous Scale”? Are you filled with a burning passion for your Lord with a constant desire to be in His presence? Are you enthusiastically supporting your Christian sisters and brothers (the church)? Are good works flowing out of your faith? Are you other-centered? Matthew 25:31-46 Do you do all you can to help the poor and needy? Luke 3:11 Or do you roll over and go back to sleep when you hear the knock of Jesus trying to wake you out of your spiritual slumber? Thank God that Jesus patiently waits for us. There were times in my life many decades ago when I deserved to be spit out of His mouth, and through His grace, He patiently waited for me. But there’s a limit to God’s patience, even for us believers. Matthew 7:21 

God allows us to keep the door to our own heart closed with the deadbolt snapped in place if that’s our choice. But if there is any part of what you just read about being a complacent Christian that resonates in your spirit, then it’s not too late for you. To you Jesus says, “Therefore be zealous and repent” and then He’s going to knock on that door every so often to remind you that He’s still there and waiting for you to reach out and turn the knob. The mystery of God is why He has not already spit us out. The mystery of us is the most puzzling of all. How are we able to remain so complacent in the face of God’s overwhelming love and His goodness to us? But when we do overcome our lethargy and run back to Jesus, He tells us, “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” Rev 3:21 Can anyone say AMEN to that?

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