Friday, March 18, 2011

Revelation 3:16

"So, because you are lukewarm - neither hot nor cold - I am about to spit you out of my mouth."

These are the words of Jesus, warning that He does not want any "so-so" Believers:  He wants us to be actively faithful to Him.  He does not want us to be some  unsatisfying, lukewarm beverage in His mouth;  He desires that we be either mouth-wateringly hot or tongue-tinglingly cold.  If we are tepid,  He will spit us out of His mouth.

When my daughter was in her early teens one of her favorite beverages was apple juice.  One Friday night she stayed overnight with one of her girlfriends after a football game. Having been told to make herself at home, she got up the next morning and helped herself to some juice from the refrigerator.  It tasted awful, and she quickly ran to the garbage can and spit it out.  Then, she read the bottle, and was shocked to discover that the "apple juice" was really vinegar.

We had a lot of laughs about that over the years, but it would be no laughing matter is my Lord spit me out of His mouth because I was unpalatable... if I looked like apple juice, but was too bitter to be tolerable to Him...if I appeared to be a long, cool drink, but was , instead, a rancid, disappointing fluid worthy only of spewing out. Oh, but I have been!  Every time I think I know even a little bit about how to live as a Believer,  I find myself letting both my Savior and myself down.

Well, here's what happened.  I was invited to a birthday dinner for a former coworker.  Something told me not to go, but I felt obligated. We carpooled, so I couldn't leave early.  The restaurant was about an hour's drive from home, so hiring a taxi was unthinkable...  At the restaurant most of the people at the birthday get-together were drinking alcohol - lots of alcohol.  They quickly became loud and inappropriate.  I was very uncomfortable with the language and the topics of conversation. We were at a "family restaurant", and families with children were all around us.  I was embarrassed and unhappy to be there.  But I was there!  To the casual observer, I was part of the group. Although I wasn't drinking alcohol, wasn't using profane language, and wasn't joining in on the vulgar topics of conversation,  I was sitting at the table.  And, I was not protesting the others' behaviors.

Me!  The one who is usually so outspoken!  The one who usually defends "doing the right thing" at all costs! I just sat there,  did nothing,  said nothing.  Ate my food in silence, and left with the group when it was time to go.  When I got home, I was horribly sad.  I prayed, "Why, Lord, do people have to be so disappointing? Why can't they just be nice?"  His answer hit me immediately:  "Why do YOU have to be so disappointing?  Why didn't YOU try to change the situation?  Before you try to remove the splinter from your brother's eye, you'd better pull that big 'ol log out of your own..."

So there you have it.  I was lukewarm.  AND I was judging others.  I was weak.  I was a poor example.  Like Adam and Eve way back in Genesis,  I was trying to hide from God. I thought that if I hid myself behind others' sins and shame that perhaps God would not see my own.  I thought that maybe I could shift the blame to others.  But, no!  God  never allows this.  Like Adam and Eve, I had to stand alone. Unworthy.  But the good news is that God wants to forgive us our sins.  All we need to do is ask.

Many years ago I dated a man who was pretty much confused about his relationship with God.  When it became apparent that things weren't going to work out for us, I wrote him a letter.  In the letter I pleaded with him to seek God.  I explained that it wasn't important how he got along with people;  what was important was his relationship with God.  I told him he was important to God, that God loves him, that God wants to forgive his past sins.  I worked hard on that letter!  I included scriptures and had the letter hand-delivered to him by a mutual friend.  Then, I waited for a response...

It never came.  He never even read the entire letter.  I spoke to him months later, and he said he read the beginning of the letter, but got impatient with it and quit reading.  And, so it is with many of us in the reading of God's Word.  He took the time to write it through many prophets and apostles.  Written by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, it has withstood many wars, famines, and disasters.  Attempts at blotting out the Holy scriptures have all been in vain.   God's "love letter" to us is His Word;  in it He gives us advice on every topic under the sun.  It is a "how-to" book for human beings.

The Word of God was written for us, to read and study and apply to our lives.  Yet many of us read the beginning, get tired of reading, and never read any further... And we miss the message and become lukewarm.

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