In Revelation 3:14-22, the letter to the church at Laodicea, Jesus makes it clear that being lukewarm and abiding in Christ are mutually exclusive. To say someone is a “lukewarm Christian” is self-contradictory, an oxymoron.
Those who are lukewarm are usually the last to know of their condition. So how does a believer detect if he is lukewarm?
Jesus gives a summary of the assessment that the lukewarm have of themselves: “you say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing'” yet are pitiable, ignorant of their true condition. How do we “hear what the Spirit say” in our own circumstance? What are some particular things to look for?
If you search online for lukewarmness you will find copious tests and examinations, many of which are variations on Francis Chan’s theme in Crazy Love. Chan listed eighteen (18!) tests of lukewarmness there, but I have combined like ideas and offer seven categories of the Christian life that are bellwethers of the believer’s fervor and zeal. In places, I have used Chan’s language without quotes, so this is my attribution to his work.
1 Doing the Bare Minimum
You know that if you claim to be Christian, you should be doing something, so you do something that you know looks “Christian” but are reluctant to do to too much and risk becoming a Jesus Freak or Bible-thumper.
You give money, so long as it doesn’t infringe on your standard of living. You participate in church but only to the extent that it doesn’t interfere with your schedule. You serve others, as long as you can maintain your comfort and leisure. You love others, particularly those who are lovely and are able to love you back.
2 Giving in to Compromise
In conflict of any sort, you do what is popular rather than what is right.
3 Holding Your Tongue about Jesus
All of us could use work in public speaking, in overcoming shyness and fear, in our understanding of the Gospel message. But, let’s face it. If we’re excited about a washing machine, or a new power drill, we seem to have no problem telling people. If you rarely tell people about the greatness of salvation in Christ, and have no interest in changing, you’re lukewarm.
4 Playing it Safe
You want to be able to say that you “love God,” but this business about loving him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength seems a bit out there. It isn’t realistic, and even if it were, that kind of devotion is for the super-Christians (Jesus freaks and Bible thumpers). You are impressed by the great things that other Christians do, but you don’t act, yourself. You consider “radical” what Jesus expects from each and every disciple.
5 Minimizing Sin
You gauge your godliness and holiness not by the standard of the Bible, but by comparing yourself to the world. Your standard of holiness, then, is “At least I’m not as bad as that guy!” You don’t really want to be saved from sin in the here-and-now, but only from the consequence of sin in the by-and-by.
6 Finding Security in Flesh
You cling tightly to the “security of the believer,” but instead of finding that security in Christ alone, you find security in things that are much easier to produce by man’s power. You feel secure in your salvation because you give to the church (barely!), you attend church, you “walked the aisle” as a youngster, you signed a pledge card, you raised your hand at an evangelistic rally, you have been “baptized,” you come from a Christian family, you vote the right way, and you live in the United States.
7 Remaining Unchanged
You might avoid the “major sins” or the Top 3 Transgressions, but otherwise, you life looks pretty much like every unbeliever out there. Ask yourself what would happen if you woke up tomorrow and had suddenly stopped believing. Other than freeing up a couple of hours on Sunday mornings, would your life look much different?
Jesus says that those who say that they are his, yet are lukewarm, make him want to vomit. But there is opportunity to “heat up”: be zealous and repent.
Sermon Theme: The cure for the sick(ening) church is re-admission of the speaking Christ.
- The Lord Gives a Prognosis
- Lukewarm things are useless to Christ
- Lukewarm things are in opposition to Christ
- The Lord Gives a Prescription
- Requisition: get from Jesus
- Repent: turn to Jesus
- Re-Admit: abide with Jesus
- The Lord Gives a Promise