Second preface: This is also a “me too” account, meaning I have been just as guilty as anyone else in this area… I’m not throwing stone per se, because, especially when I was in high school, I was just as hypocritical as anyone else I knew; maybe even more so.
So now that I’ve gotten those two prefaces out of the way….
Where I grew up, everyone claims to be a Christian:
“Yeah, I believe that Jesus died for my sins, is my Savior, and all that, but…”
“Yeah, I said the sinner’s prayer when I was like four years old, so I’m a Christian, but…”
“Yeah, I think Jesus was a good moral teacher, but…”
…but few actually live as though they worship Christ as Lord. It’s the “but” that really gets you.
It’s like saying:
“I’m 100% devoted to a cause, but… only 10% of the time.”
“I’ve had a life-changing encounter with God Almighty, but… I’m going to keep living like I haven’t.”
“I’ve decided that God’s Kingdom should be the first priority in my life, but… I’m going to build up my kingdom instead.”
“I’ve confessed Jesus Christ as my Lord, but… I’m not going to submit to His authority in my life.”
“I’m a Christian, but…I’m a lukewarm Christian.”
Here’s the ironic part: Those who claim to be lukewarm Christians are actually making a reference to the Bible, and by doing such are proving that they have never seriously studied the Bible! The analogy of being lukewarm comes from Revelation 3:16 and it’s not a pretty picture. In Revelation 3, Jesus is speaking to some churches about areas in which they have fallen short. He compares one of the churches to a glass of water that He was expecting to be hot but, when He took a sip, it turned out to be lukewarm. Here’s the thing, the lukewarm water doesn’t get swallowed or kept. It gets spit out!
We fool ourselves if we think we can sit comfortably in our lukewarm Christianity. We are deceived when we tell ourselves that giving our leftovers to God is a suitable offering.
Anything short of 100% commitment is not Christianity. Anything short of passionate devotion to God is a cheap forgery of real Christianity.
A friend of mine recently wrote as her Facebook status: “If you are truly saved you CANNOT live comfortably in sin! “Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.” – 1 John 2:4 So, if you are sinning without care or conviction, YOU ARE NOT A CHRISTIAN, and YOU ARE NOT SAVED! There is no gray area! Please, get right with God now! Don’t put it off, because you may not get tomorrow!”
I agree with this person. A Christian will look different once they’ve become a Christian. Moses encountered God and his face glowed! (Exodus 34:29, 35) Paul went from persecutor of Jesus to martyr for Jesus! My point is simply this: when you encounter the living God you are forever changed. If you think you can be lukewarm, then you have not been saved but have instead been deceived. Back when I was a “lukewarm Christian” this became abundantly clear to me when I joined a First John Bible study. The Scriptures confronted me with verses that said that I was a big, fat hypocrite and that I was a fraud. Verses like 1 John 1:6, 2:6, 2:17, 2:23, 3:6, 3:10, 3:18, 4:8, 5:3, and 5:19 all served to convict me of my hypocrisy. The Holy Spirit told me to stop pretending! Soon after, by the grace of God, I repented and have trusted in Christ alone for my salvation.
But First John forced me to realize that Jesus didn’t die on a cross for the occasional shout-out; He died to be my Lord. (Although I haven’t finished the book yet, Radical by David Platt is really challenging me in this area and I’ll probably add more thoughts inspired by this book in later entries.)
I challenge you to examine your life in light of what Scripture says a Christian should look like. Read First John and see how you stack up; it can be read in one sitting. Could someone watch you and tell by the way you live your life that you are a Christian? Or would your own actions reveal you to be a hypocrite? It’s a tough question to answer, but it’s one that must be faced. Do I say this judgmentally? No. I say this because I love you too much to keep quiet. My prayer is that you encounter the living God and are forever changed for God’s glory and for your joy!
I’ll be following up this idea in another entry called The Difficulty of Surrender.