So in our Sunday School class, we are reading the book “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan. This week we had to read chapter 4 and let me just tell you, chapter 4 hit me hard. After reading it, I immediately came up with a challenge for myself.
Chapter 4 is about lukewarm Christians. Francis gave numerous examples of what a lukewarm Christian does and they way a lukewarm Christian thinks. If you read all of these examples of the profile of the lukewarm and you honestly think you are not guilty of any of it, you should pray about it and see what God thinks. Because honestly, I don’t believe that any of us can escape each of these tests with flying colors and never second guess our own intentions. So my challenge for myself is to work on each of these definitions of a lukewarm Christian to make sure that I am consciously trying to be the person God intended me to be. Here’s Francis Chan’s definitions of a lukewarm profile (note that these are direct sayings from his book, I have not edited them at all):
- Lukewarm people attend church fairly regularly. It is what is expected of them, what they believe “good Christians” do, so they go.
- Lukewarm people give money to charity and to the church…as long as impinge on their standard of living. If they have a little extra and it’s easy and safe to give, they do so. After all, God loves a cheerful giver right?
- Lukewarm people tend to choose what is popular over what is right when they are in conflict. They desire to fit in both at church and outside of church; they care more about what people think of their actions (like church attendance and giving) than what God thinks of their hearts and lives.
- Lukewarm people don’t really want to be saved from their sin; they want only to be saved from the penalty of their sin. They don’t genuinely hate sin and aren’t truly sorry for it; they’re merely sorry because God is going to punish them. Lukewarm people don’t really believe that this new life Jesus offers is better than the old sinful one.
- Lukewarm people are moved by stories of people who do radical things for Christ, yet they do not act. They assume such action is for “extreme” Christians, not average ones. Lukewarm people call “radical” what Jesus expected of all His followers.
- Lukewarm people rarely share their faith with their neighbors, coworkers, or friends. They do not want to be rejected, nor do they want to make people uncomfortable by talking about private issues like religion.
- Lukewarm people gauge their morality or “goodness” by comparing themselves to the secular world. They feel satisfied that while they aren’t as hard-core for Jesus as so-and-so, they are nowhere as horrible as they guy down the street.
- Lukewarm people say they love Jesus, and He is, Indeed a part of their lives. But only a part. They give Him a section of their time, their money, and their thoughts, but He isn’t allowed to control their lives.
- Lukewarm people love God, but they do not love Him with all their hearts, soul and strength. They would be quick to assure you that they try to love God that much, but that sort of total devotion isn’t really possible for the average person; it’s only for the pastors and missionaries and radicals.
- Lukewarm people love others but do not seek to love others as much as they love themselves. Their love of others is typically focused on those who love them in return, like family, friends, and other people they know and connect with. There is little love left over for those who cannot love them back, much less for those who intentionally slight them, whose kids are better athletes than theirs, or with whom conversations are awkward or uncomfortable. Their love is highly conditional and very selective, and generally comes with strings attached.
- Lukewarm people will serve God and others, but there are limits to how far they will go or how much time, money, and energy they are willing to give.
- Lukewarm people think about life on earth much more often than eternity in heaven. Daily life is mostly focused on today’s to-do list, this week’s schedule, and next month’s vacation. Rarely, if ever, do they intently consider the life to come. Regarding this, C.S. Lewis writes, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”
- Lukewarm people are thankful for their luxuries and comforts, and rarely consider trying to give as much as possible to the poor. They are quick to point out, “Jesus never said money is the root of all evil, only that the love of money is.” Untold numbers of lukewarm people feel “called” to minister to the rich; very few feel “called” to minister to the poor.
- Lukewarm people do whatever is necessary to keep themselves from feeling too guilty. They want to do the bare minimum, to be “good enough” without it requiring too much of them.
- Lukewarm people are continually concerned with playing it safe; they are slaves to the god of control. This focus on safe living keeps them from sacrificing and risking for God.
- Lukewarm people feel secure because they attend church, made a profession of faith at age twelve, were baptized, come from a Christian family, vote Republican, or live in America. Just as the prophets in the Old Testament warned Israel that they were not safe just because they lived in the land of Israel, so we are not safe just because we wear the label “Christian” or because some people persist in calling us a “Christian nation”.
- Lukewarm people do not live by faith; their lives are structured so they never have to. They don’t have to trust God if something unexpected happens-they have their savings account. They don’t need God to help them-they have their retirement plan in place. They don’t depend on God on a daily basis-their refrigerators are full and, for the most part, they are good in health. The truth is, their lives wouldn’t look much different i f they suddenly stopped believing in God.
- Lukewarm people probably drink and swear less than the average, but besides that, they really aren’t very different from your typical unbeliever. They equate their partially sanitized lives with holiness, but they couldn’t be more wrong.
Seems like a lot doesn’t it? Did any of it apply to you? Chances are, it did. I challenge you, my incredibly awesome readers, to pick the one that you slack the most on, the one category in which you are truly lukewarm and pray about it. Fix it. Talk to God about it. Pray that He presents you with the opportunity to be more than lukewarm.