Lukewarm water has a soothing effect on a bather's nerves — it helps relax a troubled mind. But it's not good for you to be neither hot nor cold spiritually — a lukewarm Christian!
Lethargy is all too prevalent in the Church of God today! Many brethren complain of flagging interest and drive in prayer and Bible study. The easy chair, television and personal pursuits entice and capture the minds of too many. Real effort at being a Christian — at setting the proper example and getting along with people – is only minimally present in some lives. Does this description apply to you? I knew a man years ago who said, "I dread the prophesied Great Tribulation, but I think it will take that horrifying ordeal before I can stir myself enough to make it into the Kingdom of God"! Another person I love dearly could see the rapid approach of this horrible period on earth — the Great Tribulation — but still rejected God's way of protection. The calm statement was: "I'll just have to go through it with all the rest of the world, I guess. Then perhaps I'll understand and start doing something about it." I myself have often said that it took the shock of combat in World War II to bring me to my knees, before God could begin to deal effectively with me. How many rough knocks do we need to bring us to our senses? Can God get through to us only through violent means? Let's hope none of us have resigned ourselves to that approach in life.
The Laodicean attitude
Notice Christ's warning to the Laodicean church: "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth" (Rev. 3:15-16). What an alarming statement, when we understand it! This is a warning about lethargy. We are living in the Philadelphia era — the sixth of the seven churches described in Revelation 2 and 3. We are to be zealously active in fulfilling the great mission assigned to us today! The overcomers in each era — those who faithfully do their part — are promised a reward. Mere awareness of that reward is sufficient in some cases to keep those called by God striving to maintain closeness to Christ. For some of us, however, the reward alone is not enough. Regrettably, it takes not just the offer of a reward but threats to life, health and well-being. That is the wrong attitude! If you are one of these, the Revelator continues: "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich [the trial of fire is intended to motivate the Laodiceans to overcome the lethargy they have slipped into]; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent" (verses 17-19). God created us for His pleasure (Rev. 4:11). Our purpose in life is to fulfill His will and perform the commissions He gives us. We should be dedicated to this goal regardless of threats. We should not have to go through the fire — that is, if we understand our calling and are dedicated to becoming converted.
A lesson from Esau
Read about Esau's tragic mistake (Gen. 25:29-34). It is recorded to warn us not to take lightly our present calling. It took some time for Esau to realize the error of his way. By then he had seared his conscience and was unable to grasp the meaning of real repentance. The same danger now faces you! Some have said they will pass up all opportunities to become converted in this age, hoping to come up in the second resurrection. They cling to the hope that God will give them a second chance. Then they will "make the grade." Then they will be much more apt to overcome and apply themselves zealously to serving God, knowing it will be their last chance for life! That approach, along with the Laodicean attitude, is not sound reasoning. Can you know you would then be willing to apply God's way? You cannot foresee what your attitude might be at that time. Can you afford to take that chance? Even though Esau sought to rectify his error, he failed: "As Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears" (Heb. 12:16-17). Don't despise the high calling you have of Christ — don't ever take it lightly. If you have truly been called, this is the only chance you will have (Heb. 10:26-27). It is worth more than all the material wealth and physical pleasures that attract you so strongly today.
Christ's easy yoke
God desires above all things that you prosper and are in good health, now and forever in His Kingdom (III John 2). He has decreed that, if at all possible, none should be lost. "And so all Israel shall be saved" (Rom. 11:26). And, "For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all" (verse 32). Christ has provided you with the goal, the example, the environment and the power needed to attain that great prize. Pick your tools carefully, for if you have slipped into lethargy you will require the very best. Look to the superb example – Christ Himself. Fasten your eyes on the goal. Call upon the promised power of God's Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit, Christ will make all your burdens light. He has never broken a promise – not one. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matt. 11:28-30).
Your contract with God
You signed a contract with God at baptism. You surrendered your life to Him to use as He saw fit. Your end of that contract, the most important covenant into which anyone can enter, was to draw constantly closer to God through prayer, Bible study and practicing His way of life. He, in turn, guarantees eternal life with Him! The stakes are extremely high. They are attainable, though, if you will continually stir yourself to keep your part of the contract and draw on God's power to help you do so. At conversion you sampled Christ's yoke and His burden. Have you forgotten? Did you not understand at that time what you had committed yourself to perform? Christ is our Leader in all things. His way of life is not the popular or easy way. The message He brought from God the Father antagonized those of His generation and, after rejecting Him, they slew Him. Christ forewarned all who were to follow Him: "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you" (John 15: 19). Remember that warning, and the burden that came upon you ? You rejoiced that you were counted worthy to suffer for Christ's sake! Lifelong friends, associates and even your own close relatives turned even your own
close relatives turned away from you in dismay over your new found direction in life. Some left you in sorrow; others shunned you in anger. Even your livelihood came into jeopardy and, in some cases, finding new employment and a new home became necessary. You suffered. Your children suffered, and you along with them, in their bewilderment. You counted the cost and willingly paid the price for conversion and the promise of eternal life. You accepted these adjustments in your lifestyle. Now, years down the line, these early commitments may have grown dim — perhaps you have forgotten them. The early challenges of learning God's will — or eagerly stepping out in faith with the help of God's Spirit — have faded with the routine of everyday Christian living. Bible study is stale, less challenging and, therefore, has become sporadic. Prayer is somehow less meaningful.
How to get "back on the track"
Don't wait for another major crisis — or the worldwide cataclysm of the Great Tribulation — to smash you between the eyes! Satan has an arsenal full of weapons to strike you down permanently. Let that realization sink home — let it stir you to furious, righteous anger with the devil, and revive your determination to turn wholeheartedly to Christ. Rely on His promise of divine help — He will never leave you or forsake you (Heb. 13; 5). No Laodicean is going to rejoice in the Great Tribulation to come. He may survive it and ultimately be in the Kingdom of God. Certainly, the Tribulation will straighten out most lukewarm Christians and put them back on the right track: But you don't need that remedy, nor should you want it! Go to your knees even if you must force yourself to do so! Cry out to God for help. Talk it all out with Him. Confess your lethargy, your lackadaisical attitude, to Him. He will hear and He will answer. Then stir up your interest in reading your Bible daily. When was the last time you read it through word for word? Or does that bore you? If so, try chain-referencing different subjects in your margin. Go to your minister for ideas and help. Invite your minister to begin a regular, small Bible study in your home for friends and brethren in your part of the community. You will not only learn but you will have helped others find a solution to the same problems. Your minister will be able to fathom the difficulties you face. He can initiate ways to rescue you from the Laodicean pitfall into which some brethren have stumbled. Rejoice in the great Work you were called to perform and help build the unity so necessary to the Body of Christ (I Cor. 1:10). Give! It's so rewarding now and will be for all eternity. Soon you can rejoice in a battle well fought and won with God's promised help. God's Kingdom is just around the corner!