Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Are You A Hot Christian?

Burger Wrapper – Rev 3:20
Beverage Cups – John 3:16
Milkshake Cups – Proverbs 3:5
Double-Double Wrapper – Nahum 1:7
Water Cups – John 14:6
French Fry Tray – Proverbs 24:16

Dear Friends,

She and I had just polished off a gourmet meal catered by IN-N-OUT. (Yes.. I know their hamburgers have enough fat and cholesterol to drop a horse, but we really only go there a few times a year.) And so now I’m picking through the wrappings trying to spot the Bible verses. Did you know that IN-N-OUT was established by a Christian family and still today, every paper container has a Bible reference printed on it in tiny letters and numbers? There it was on the hamburger wrapper: 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.”

Do we really know what is being said here? Well-meaning pastors, including this one, have slyly 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 have applied this verse to non-believers, the truth is that Jesus was not talking to them. Go get your Bible 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 body of Christ. Us good, church-goin’, lukewarm Christians. The hard truth Bubba, is that Jesus may be talking to you and me. 

Jesus is saying “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 with which they were struggling. 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. And then the fire cooled and 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 then the Biblical plague-like pandemic closed our church. We missed church but most definitely liked sleeping in on a Sunday and watching a church service while still in our pajamas. But that got old and everything we liked about church, especially seeing our church friends, was no more. And then... we just found something else to do on Sundays. 

A recent survey found that 30% of church-going Catholics will not return now that churches are reopening. It’s estimated that 15-20% of Evangelical Protestants and 35-40% of Mainline Protestants will not return. We’ve been reading about the long-term physical effects related to Covid-19, but what may be even more devastating are lockdown-related, long-term effects of spiritual apathy. And to apathetic Christians who have become comfortable in their complacency, the words of Jesus are disturbing and direct. “..because you are lukewarm..I’m going to vomit you out of My mouth.” Revelation 3:16.

But wait a minute! I thought Jesus loves me? Yes He does! And it’s because of His love for you that He wants you to passionately embrace your 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 until you do.” Revelation 3:19-20 (my translation)

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 immersed in the Word of God daily? Is your prayer life vibrant and alive? 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 whenever 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 7:21-23 

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” Revelation 3:19 and then He will persistently knock on that door to remind you that He’s still there and He’s 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 over-whelming 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." And then He says to us.. "He who has an ear let him hear...” Revelation 3:21-22

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