The person you used to know doesn’t exist anymore. I’ve been a Christian for the last 18 years, and I’ve lived what I thought was a Christian life. I’d talk about going to church and I’d put on a show for our families, but it was all a façade. The person I was didn’t speak like a Christian. I never spoke to my friends about God. Like, at all. I spent most of my days around people who did the same thing… including my husband. We did what we wanted and talked to God at our convenience. We just relied on the fact that he was “always on the line.” We were just swimming around, having a good ‘ol time in a pool of lukewarm water.
Well, here’s what Jesus said about lukewarm water:
“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.” –Rev 3:15-16
A few months ago, my husband realized he was frolicking in this lukewarm pool, ran out, grabbed a towel, and begged me to join him. I’m a stubborn heifer, stuck in my ways. I thought he was ridiculous. I had been the spiritual leader in our marriage, I had been the one in touch with my spiritual gifts, I thought I had everything together. I got saved at 7 years old, I was practically fireproof, right?
I hung out in my lukewarm pool, totally disgusted by the fact that God had called my husband out of his complacency. I treaded some water in the deep end, wallowing in the fact that I didn’t want to change anything, and that I was alone in that. Changing my life and actually LIVING for Christ would require me to leave the safety of my lukewarm pool. It would require things I wasn’t comfortable with: loss of friends, commitment, rejection, but worst of all, it would require me to admit that I was actually drowning in denial. I hate being wrong.
I watched him grow in his faith. I watched him actually living the way he was supposed to. I watched him be the man God called him to be. I eventually stopped sulking long enough to realize that I needed to drag my hind-end out of that filthy water, clean myself off, and join him. I needed to haul myself out of my lukewarm lifestyle. It was only after I was out of the water that I realized how disgusting my life had been. That lukewarm water had been breeding all kinds of things: complacency, denial, wrong ideals, terrible speech, hatefulness, worldly things. Everything Satan wanted me to think was okay for me to practice as a Christian.
What I had really been doing, is using God as a spare tire. I would run on my own will, and pull out the God card every now and then. What you need to know, is the life I presented you, was a bold-faced lie.
I’m sorry you heard me using foul language, and you thought it was okay to use foul language too.
I’m sorry you heard me talking about people.
I’m sorry you thought it was okay to come to me and talk to me about people.
I’m sorry if you never even knew I was a Christian.
I’m sorry if you modeled your life after me and you thought it was okay.
I’m sorry for not always being the way I am now.
I’m sorry that I didn’t try harder.
I’m sorry that I didn’t use scripture more.
I’m sorry I was a pitiful example of what a Christ-Follower looks like.
So what does a Christ-Follower look like?
A Christ-Follower is someone who actually TRIES every single day to do a little better. It’s someone who fully commits to God’s will. It’s someone who makes a legitimate effort to be more Christ-like. It’s someone who refuses to be complacent.
That’s hard, friends.
It’s a struggle every day. After you’ve made the decision to walk out of that lukewarm mess, Satan will hit you with everything he can to knock you back in. You’ll have to steady yourself every time he throws something at you. It doesn’t get easier, and Satan will try to use that too. It’s hard doing hard things, and that’s discouraging. Don’t let him use that against you. Steady yourself with every step, and you’ll start making progress.
Step out of that lukewarm water, and step into the person God is calling you to be. Stop swimming around in complacency. Quit comparing yourself to everyone around you. “Well, he’s doing it, so it must be okay,” is one of the worst things you can say as a Christian. Get in the word of God and find out for yourself what the Bible says is right and wrong. Don’t rely solely on what man has to say. Read your Bible. Read your Bible. Read your Bible. It’s right there in black and white (and sometimes red). Just READ. You’re reading this right now!
When you read, you’ll find these verses that aren’t talked about a lot:
At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the men who are complacent, those who say in their hearts, ‘The LORD will not do good, nor will he do ill.’ –Zeph. 1:12
Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. –1 Cor. 10:12
And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” –1 Pet 4:18
When you actually read scripture, you realize that you’re not supposed to stay in one place spiritually. You’re not supposed to be stagnant. You’re not supposed to be comfortable where you are. If the righteous are scarcely saved, that’s scary. I’m nowhere close to righteous and I certainly don’t claim to be. What I do claim, is that I’m striving for progress. I’m striving daily to follow Christ.
In the book, Not a Fan, Kyle Idleman addresses the fact that most Christians today act more like fans than followers:
“Fans don’t mind him doing a little touch-up work, but Jesus wants complete renovation. Fans come to Jesus thinking tune-up, but Jesus is thinking overhaul. Fans think a little makeup is fine, but Jesus is thinking makeover. Fans think a little decorating is required, but Jesus wants a complete remodel. Fans want Jesus to inspire them, but Jesus wants to interfere with their lives.” –Kyle Idleman
Friends, I am so sorry that I gave you a diluted view of what Christianity looks like. I am sorry I have been a pitiful example of what we are called to be as Christians. I am sorry I never showed you what a real relationship with Christ looks like. The façade we put on was that it’s okay to basically do what we want and still call ourselves Christians. We took advantage of what the world says is, “okay.” We were just like everyone else.
We’re not called to be like everyone else. We’re called to be set-apart:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.—Rom 12:22
Renew your mind. Step out of the lukewarm water that you have made your home, and step out in faith. God will wrap you up in a warm, secure, towel of grace and love. Don’t think you’re alone. There are others running this race with you. Pass it on:
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. – 1 Pet 4:8
If you’re reading this and you’re thinking, “this doesn’t apply to me at all,” think again. Stop being stagnant! Being a Christ-FOLLOWER doesn’t mean you say a prayer one time and then you’re done. It means you follow him. It means you make forward progress. It means you move. It means, drag your hind-end out of that disgusting water you call home, and do what God is calling you to do. Do more, do less, do what is right, do whatever needs to be done to make forward progress. Mary Kay Ash always said, “fail forward to success.”
I’m sorry I was such a poor example of what a Christian was, but I’m trying every day to do a little better. I often fail, but I’m failing forward and learning from my mistakes. I’m using what I learned from my past - in my present - to promote my future. Some days are harder than others, but I know God loves me enough to stick with me, and Satan hates that enough to try to make me stumble:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, he cares for you. be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.—1 Pet 5:6-11
I pray that you’ll forgive me for the example I gave you in my past. I hope you’ll see me trying in the present, and I hope you’ll join me in the future. I hope you become as grossed-out as I was with my lukewarm water. I hope you have faith to step out and know that you’re not alone. I hope you know that you’re loved by a God who loved you enough to send his son to die for you.
There is NO way I could give my children up to die for others. There’s just no way. I see that kind of love and I am humbled and slightly ashamed. I’m humbled because he loved me enough to watch his son suffer, which is more than I could ever do. I am ashamed because after all of that, I still treated him like a spare tire. He deserves more than that. He deserves every ounce of me. He deserves every cell that he created. I am honored to be his creation: every cell of me. Every not-lukewarm cell of my being.