Do you feel exhausted? Is your heart heavy? Are you weary from the battle?
If you find yourself in this place, don’t lose hope, God has a plan. He wants to renew you and breathe life into your spirit, soul and body.
I invite you to pray with me before you continue reading.
Pray: Father, thank you so much for how You love us. I ask that You would tamper with my heart today in a masterful, memorable and meaningful way. Let this teaching spark and renew life in me. In Christ’s name. Amen.
We’re in a global community where people are tired and there’s a lethargy among those in the Christian Church. There’s a sense of exhaustion in their hearts.
Nevertheless, I believe we can have an experience like what Jeremiah, the prophet, talked about in Lamentations 5:21, “Bring us back to yourself, O Lord, so that we may return to you; renew our life as in the days before.”
To renew means to spring up, sprout and move forward again.
What would happen if you prayed that prayer Jeremiah prayed hundreds of years ago? What if you prayed for God to renew an affection for spiritual things, a hunger for your devotion to God, and a deep thirst for your growth as a disciple of Christ?
In the book of Revelation, chapter three, we can see God’s heart in regards to being personally renewed. Revelation 3:14-18 says, “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.’ ”
Jesus is intimately concerned about your spiritual strength and where you are in your level of passion and zeal for God.
The message to the Laodicean congregation is still appropriate for us today. Let’s walk through each layer of the words he had for this community of believers.
What was God’s complaint?
The church had become lukewarm in its devotion to God in its spiritual disciplines. The church was experiencing a sense of apathy. And Jesus was speaking to the Laodicean church that there should always be a sense of zeal, passion and excitement for the things of God.
When Jesus said, I am the Amen; He was saying it’s a done deal, and I’m not changing my mind or the relationship I want with My church. My church must be a passionate and zealous church that’s on fire for God.
And so the question is, “What was God’s complaint?”
God’s concern was that the gospel in that church at Laodicea had gotten to the place where it was lukewarm. And Jesus was saying, I can’t tolerate lukewarmness.
The temperature of the gospel is supposed to be fiery hot. That means the temperature of Christ-followers is supposed to be red hot. And when our spiritual thermostat is set on something different than that, God has a complaint.
To the Laodiceans and to us today, God wanted to make it undeniably clear that salvation is too amazing to produce apathy. It’s too captivating to create complacency. The majesty of God is too beautiful to foster boredom. God’s major complaint was that the church had become lukewarm.
He essentially said “I wish you were either hot or cold. I wish you were hot, fiery and zealous for God. I wish you were passionate in your pursuit of Christ. I wish you were being renewed to grow up, sprout and move forward.”
Coldness says you’re distant and disconnected. You are in a place where you’re like an unbeliever. Cold means you make no claims that you’re a Christ-follower. It’s being frigid towards God. You are unrepentant, unmoved and living in unbelief about the things of God.
God has a big problem with this.
Jesus became upset and used language that seems so antithetical to the nature and character of God, but it wasn’t. He was blunt. He said “you guys are lukewarm, and I will spit you out of my mouth.” He made it clear he was allergic to lukewarmness. He despised it.
We live in a day and age where we must model authentic Christianity. We have to get on fire for God. We can’t allow our hearts to become cold, distant and disconnected from the things of God.
Jesus was very clear.
He said I wish that you were either hot or cold. In saying that, He was saying, at least I know where you stand. Lukewarmness, complacency, indifference and apathy lead to being faithless and fruitless.
Are you complacent in your walk with the Lord?
Are you pursuing God with a dogged tenacity?
If not, God is registering a complaint against you today.
I love what Francis Chan, noted author and pastor, says about lukewarm people. He says, “Lukewarm people tend to choose what is popular over what is right. Lukewarm people don’t really want to be saved from their sin; they want to be saved from the penalty of their sin. Lukewarm people rarely share their faith with their neighbors, coworkers, or friends. Lukewarm people are thankful for their luxuries and comforts, and rarely consider trying to give as much as possible to the poor.”
Are you guilty of being lukewarm?
It can happen to anyone. It doesn’t happen all at once, but slowly over time. We miss our time with God and don’t engage in spiritual worship. We miss being a part of the community experience of being a Christ-follower. It’s when we ignore the convictions of the Holy Spirit. When we push and suppress when God is whispering to us; we allow disobedience to be rampant in our lives. All those things become symptoms of what will lead to lukewarmness.
Being lukewarm warps you into being a professional Christian. And a professional Christian is someone who is not a good model of the Christian faith. A professional Christian is comfortable and never ruffles feathers. A professional Christian lets many things go by because they want to fit in and don’t want to rock the boat. They don’t want to offend anyone.
Jesus was always in the business of offending. Not in a disrespectful manner, but God’s righteous anger would occasionally rise up in Him.
Look, I’m not suggesting you need to walk around your job as this angry Christian. No. I’m suggesting that there should be such a fire in your belly for God that you wouldn’t act like the world. There must be a distinction between you and those just saved in name only.
Let your belief and your behavior exude passion for God.
How did the Laodiceans respond?
They didn’t repent, and there was no remorse. They were not pursuing God. Instead, their response had three parts to it.
One: They said we are rich and focused on accumulating earthly funds. They had lost their zeal to acquire heavenly fortunes. It’s lukewarmness when you are only concerned about filling your pockets with money. There should be other goals you pursue rather than monetary goals. What about souls? What about your family coming to know Christ as savior? What about your calling? The Laodicean response was basically, “I’m good, I’m rich.”
Two: They said they had it made. Their desire for creature comforts made them pitiful and powerless for God. A life of spiritual comfort lacks fire and passion in pursuit of God. It cannot deliver people from the enemy’s powers and entrapment.
Three: The Laodiceans said they didn’t need anything from anyone. In other words, independence and self-sufficiency drive you further away from God. Lukewarm people believe success is measured by sufficiency.
God is calling each of us to be renewed in our zeal for Him.
He is calling us to be hot in pursuit of Him.
What was God’s counsel?
God never corrects us without offering counsel. He never challenges us without advising us on what to do to meet His expectation. God’s answer to how we can become renewed and move on the road towards fiery Christianity with zeal for the Lord is this:
We must hold to the conviction that normative Christianity is not tepid Christianity. Our default setting should be burning with passion for the things of God.
Our minds must be firm, locked in and resolute so we don’t fall into apathy. We can’t allow ourselves to rationalize and accept lukewarmness. We must hold to the promise of Hebrews 1:7, which says, “God makes his servants flames of fire.”
Our prayer must always be for God to make us a flame of fire, to be baptized in the fire of the Holy Spirit. We must ask God to move us to where we are burdened for souls. We must ask God to break out hearts for what breaks His.
Lukewarmness is not true Christianity. It is a distortion of the Christian faith.
God is trying to help us reframe our thinking and understanding that normative Christianity is a fiery zeal for God. Allow me to give you a visual to anchor this idea:
Christianity is not like a cruise ship, it’s a battleship. We’re in a war to advance the kingdom of God. We’re in a war for the souls of men and women. We’re in a war to fulfill our destiny and God’s plans for our lives.
Do you want renewal?
If you want renewal, your heart must declare:
God, I will not give you some lame excuse.
God, you got me.
God, you found me.
God, you pulled me out of the pit of indifference I was in.
God, you pointed to my complacent heart.
And God, I’m asking you to forgive me and turn me around.
Think about how powerful it would be if you were on fire for God.
I want you to see that God is doing something deep inside you. He’s doing the work of clearing out what doesn’t belong. And I want to invite you to join me on a journey towards personal renewal.
Let us not be cold. Let’s be on fire for God.
I encourage you to close this time of study and reflection with this prayer: Heavenly Father, let the power of the Holy Spirit fall on the dry parts of my soul. Renew my affection for You and sacred things. Help me pursue you with zeal and ruthless tenacity. God awaken in me a hunger and a thirst to commune and connect with you. In Christ’s name. Amen.