Am I Lukewarm?
I had an interesting conversation with a younger brother in Christ about what it means to be lukewarm. It started off as an idea he had for me for a blog post, but ended up going much deeper. We have recounted it here as best we could recall:
Him: “I have a blog idea for you. The Bible says this about the lukewarm Christian, ‘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.” That is terrifying isn’t it?
Then after about 5 minutes of talking and getting much deeper, he asks point blank:
” Am I lukewarm? “
Me: Uh. I wouldn’t think so… Why?
Him: I don’t know…just wondering. I am not really on fire for God. You know? When i go to work I kinda forget that I am Christian, I dont mean I blatantly sin or anything, but its just not front and center. How do I tell if I am lukewarm? Do you think I am lukewarm?
Me: *looking like a deer in the headlights* Well, no…the lukewarm Christian is not needy.
Him: That doesn’t make sense – we are all needy! None of us has anything outside of Christ.
Me: Uh… Well yeah, but, a lukewarm Christian has not realized that he is needy, he doesn’t realize his need because he is spiritually satisfied in himself.
Him *looking suspiciously at me*: Satisfied in himself? What do you mean? Like he is conceited?
Me: No. Not really. I think that a lukewarm Christian doesn’t really want salvation from sin he just doesn’t want to go to hell.
Him: Oh like they secretly love their sin, but pretend they don’t?
Me: Maybe. I think alukewarm person is a Christian, but in name only. He doesn’t really care about knowing God, or having a personal relationship with Him.
Him: oh like a hypocrite. That makes sense.
Me: Yeah. Maybe he was raised in a Christian home, and he is comfortable. He looks the part and acts the part, and knows the right things to say and is probably a really nice guy — he could even be involved in the church, pay his tithe, and go to bible study. You know?
Him: Ok. Sure. So does that mean we have to be, like, on fire for God? Like go out and evangelize and picket abortion clinics, and give all our stuff to the needy and stuff?
Me: No, I don’t think that’s it. That may be part of it, but it’s not really the most important thing.
Him: OK, so how do I know if I am lukewarm hypocrite?
Me: Paul tells us to test ourselves.
Him: OK. But how do I test myself?
Me: Jesus doesn’t want half hearted followers. He wants all or nothing. I think that is the point…All or nothing.
Him: but none of us can give all…
Me: True. We can’t. That is why Jesus paid for us. If you truly believe in Jesus as your saviour you are not going to be lukewarm – the Holy Spirit doesn’t do anything halfway. I think that how often I pray, how long I pray, how much I delight in Jesus, how much I find him all satisfying – how much I am consumed in him – that, I think, will tell me if I am lukewarm.
Him: I pray with my family and at dinner. I try to have quiet time, you know with coffee when I get up, but I end up missing it or sleeping in and then I forget to do it and before I know it, I have missed the next day as well. Life is just so busy you know?
Me: Yeah. I know all about that. But being a disciple involves discipline, we have to make time to get alone with God and read the Word and pray.
Him: OK. You seem pretty hot *winks at me and laughs* So? How about you? What is your prayer life like?
Me: *laughing*Well…it could be better…
We will end it there.
That conversation also got me thinking about my own prayer life and my own “lukewarmness.” Is my faith just head knowledge or do I truly delight in Jesus? Do I drink in His Word deeply and meditate on it? Do I long for a deeper relationship with him? I mean, I can talk the talk ,but…am I lukewarm?
Jesus told us, “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
I think that a really good test of our lukewarmness is our secret prayer life. Because…
It is private.
It is secret.
It is intimate.
Your private prayer life is not something you can cover up with a nice dress, or a black suit, or by showing up on time to the worship service, or going to Bible study, or writing a blog post about lukewarmness, or saying the right things, or acting the right way in front of others. I can not know if you are lukewarm from these things, because I do not know your private prayer life. And you cannot know mine. I could try to tell you, but only God and I know.
We would all do well to ask ourselves: How sincere, earnest, frequent and extended are my private prayers? Do I truly delight in Jesus and find my only comfort in Him? Or is my lack of a private prayer life the evidence of my lukewarmness?
Let’s examine ourselves, and repent and ask God for a deeper relationship with Him. My self included.
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test. Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong—not so that people will see that we have stood the test but so that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is that you may be fully restored. This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority—the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down.