Aquaducts and such
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 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.” Rev. 3:15-17
I’ve never seen a Roman aqua duct, but one day I hope to. Not just because they are magnificent structures that have lasted for thousands of years, but because of this scripture. As I’ve studied this scripture in the past, I’ve learned some of the cultural context that may be lost on us today. It’s likely that the reference to lukewarm refers to the water that was delivered via the aqua ducts. This water traveled many miles through hot temperatures to get to its final destination. By the time anyone can take a drink of it, it’s lukewarm. When you’re in a hot climate, doing labor intensive work, what do you crave? A cold glass of water. But not this water, it’s lukewarm.
Also better than lukewarm would be hot. Perhaps the author had in mind a hot cup of tea. Something that you can barely drink because it’s so hot.
But where do we find ourselves? Myself included. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not judging or critiquing any person or ministry. But when we stop and think about our lives and the church as a whole in our country, where do we stand?
At some point, for all of us, when our faith was new, we had fervor and passion. When a non-Christian accepts Christ, most of his/her friends are still non-Christians. Throughout that first year, we share our faith with many of our friends. Over the next year, the number diminishes and after several years, we’re mostly surrounded by Christians and completely removed from any significant contact with those who desperately need the gospel.
We were also passionate about our worship. We were so amazed by the grace we had been given that our only response was to surrender ourselves in moments of worship that surpass us.
But somewhere along the way we go from being on fire, to being luke warm. The newness wears off and we go out in search of something else to sink our teeth into. We become surrounded by people who have been Christians for a long time, and we all forget what it was like to live life without purpose and relationship.
We allow status quo to rule us and soon status quo becomes what drives us. All our decisions are based on maintaining a semblance of what we experienced at first. Then anything that comes along that challenges the status quo must be inherently evil.
There are times when we feel like we’re missing out on something. Then we spend the rest of our lives trying to recreate an experience that cannot be replicated. The circumstances of that experience no longer exist. We’re not longer in dire straights, our names are written in the book and we rest. We are new creations, but over time, we loose the “magic” of the moment we experienced. So we chase what was. We spend our efforts and energy chasing a dream that was already fulfilled.
That’s one of the great things about being a parent. It’s so easy to forget how amazing our world is. We don’t get startled at loud noises, we know what almost everything we see is, we know most of the sounds we hear and it all becomes white noise. But then, our kids experience these things for the first time. And as we watch their faces and see their reactions, we experience them anew. When you watch a plane takeoff, and your kid is there watching in amazement, you remember how amazing it really is. When your kids see a tree that goes all the way up to the sky, you remember a time when trees looked like that to you. The experiences are theirs, but they remind us of our own.
In the same way that we experience life again as we raise our children and grandchildren, we need to experience new life again as we see those we know come to the saving grace that we have experienced. The experiences are theirs, but they remind us of our own. The experiences must be shaped by what those who have yet to experience Christ need. Not what we think we need to try to recreate an experience that no longer exists.
This is one of the issues I see driving our lukewarmness. We can’t recreate what was and we aren’t experiencing life anew through the lives of those who need to experience this love for the first time. We’re not cold, but we’re not on fire.
Again, let me say I’m not criticizing anyone or any group. This is something that transcends style and generational differences. We all get complacent. We all get comfortable. What I am hoping is that we decide to take a step away from complacency.
How do we do that? Let me as you another question, when was the last time you invested in a relationship with a non-christian and invited them to church or led them to Christ? I think this is how we get out of our luke warm state. It can be uncomfortable and risky. But, we need to take a step. Maybe you could go introduce yourself to a neighbor you’ve never met. Buy a co-worker a cup of coffee, take notes on what they like, and then surprise them with the drink at a later date. Show compassion to the hard-to-love family member at your next family birthday party. We don’t have to “go all the way” and share the four spiritual laws with them, but, we should start investing. Then when the time is right, invite them to church if it’s too hard to ask them the hard questions. If it’s not too hard, ask them yourself. The great commission was given to all of us, not just church leaders.
28One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:28-31
That doesn’t sound luke warm to me.
I’m one of those people who believes we can change the world. But we won’t if we stay complacent and comfortable.