How would you describe your walk with Jesus currently? Hot? Cold? Lukewarm? Jesus warned that it would be better to be cold in our faith than lukewarm! “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” (Revelation 3:15-16).
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to find out what getting spit out of His mouth might be like! “For we know him who said, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:30-31). So with the understanding that living above the level of lukewarm is a matter of more than casual interest, let’s take a look at what a lukewarm Christian looks like and ask a question: How do we bring the pot to a boil?
Lukewarm Christians look pretty good on the surface of their salvation. They attend church regularly . . . unless they receive an offer for a day on the water or a round of golf or a trip to the stadium. They give their tithe to their church and even additional money to charities . . . just as long as it doesn’t hurt their lifestyle in any way. They understand the truths of Scripture and the call to be different from the world . . . but when forced to choose, they would rather blend in with the world than stand out for Christ.
The lukewarm are engaged in service to God, but their motivation is rooted in what others think and say about them. They absolutely love the stories of sold-out Christians who have impacted the world for Christ, but they are not willing to move outside of their pre-determined zones of comfort and security to do the same.
- The lukewarm call “sold-out” what Jesus calls service.
- The lukewarm call “radical” what Jesus calls responsibility.
- The lukewarm call “drastic” what Jesus calls duty.
- The lukewarm call “fanatical” what Jesus calls faith.
With or without Jesus, life looks about the same for the lukewarm Christian because they are not doing anything that requires faith.
But this is not for you! To be sure, we all lapse into “lukewarm” in our walk with Jesus from time to time. I did not write this to evoke feelings of guilt and fear in you; guilt and fear never raise our temperature for any sustained period. Sure, we may run hot for a time when we are feeling guilty about our past or fearful about our future. But not for long . . . and not in a way that pleases God. Remember, God does not look on the outward appearance, but at our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7). As David beautifully captured the heart that pleases our Lord in Psalm 51:17-17.
You will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
So what is the antidote to living above the level of lukewarm? The Gospel, of course!
The Gospel is the fuel that ignites the flame of faith and keeps it burning hot, regardless of the cost or circumstance. The Gospel reminds us what Jesus has done on our behalf, and the love of Christ begins to compel us, replacing guilt and fear. The Gospel turns obligation into opportunity, which is a fragrant offering in the sight of God. The Gospel is the only force that can lift us above the level of lukewarm and keep us there.
So if you feel yourself running a little less than hot for Jesus, the solution is not to “do more” or “try harder.” And it certainly is not to make resolutions to “do better next time,” only to find yourself falling woefully short of the intended mark . . . again. The solution is found in your Savior and in your Savior alone. See His sacrifice for you. Feel His forgiveness for you. Hear His victory cry, “It is finished!” uttered for you. And hear His decree of power in your life: “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).
This is the only way to consistently live above the level of lukewarm. “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!