I WOULD LIKE TO DEDICATE THIS POST TO A GOOD FRIEND I HAVE IN CYBERSPACE, FROM WHOM I AM LEARNING MUCH AND THROUGH WHOM I AM DRAWING CLOSER TO THE HEART OF GOD. THIS IS FOR YOU CAROL. MAY THE LORD CONTINUE TO GUIDE YOU THROUGH THE PASSION OF HIS RAGING FIRES, MAY HE CONTINUE TO PROVIDE YOU WITH GOLD REFINED IN THE FIRE, AND AS YOU STRIVE TO OVERCOME, MAY YOU CONTINUE TO BE REMINDED THAT AS YOU DO SO, YOU ARE BEING GIVEN THE RIGHT BY JESUS HIMSELF TO SIT WITH HIM ON HIS THRONE.
As I read the news and hear about the natural disasters that are taking place around the world, I am immediately drawn to the metaphorical meaning that much of what is currently happening has in relation to Christ’s attitude towards lukewarmness in his self-declared followers. I have woken up to the news of over 100 people dead due to the raging fires that are desolating the Australian landscape and its people, and a week ago now, snowstorms from Russia hit the Eastern part of England, and have since spread to many other areas of the United Kingdom. Half the world is “going up in flames” or being hounded by the relentless warm temperatures, and the other half is being brought to a halt, as the freezing temperatures and snow storms are causing major mayhem and paralysing an already vulnerable economy.
The first thing that sprung to mind this morning as I pondered on this stark contrast between the raging fires and the paralysing ice, was Jesus’ words in revelation 3, 14-22:
To the Church in Laodicea
14 To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.
15 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 realise that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so that you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so that you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so that you can see.
19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.
20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
21 To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.
22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Could what is currently taking place in the world reflect what lies at the very heart of God? I have often heard it said that the opposite of love is not hate but indifference, and I have to say that I agree with that statement 100% or at least that is how I understand it in my own life and experiences. How easy it is to declare that we are Christians as we carry on living unchanged lives and believing that we are indeed worthy of such honourable name, when in reality we know that yes, perhaps we have become “better people” by doing good deeds that we did not do before, and yet, our hearts still remain calloused and clinging to the fleshly lives and the comforts that will ensure we live a balanced life with no risks, no thrills, of the spiritual kind, that is. Many hide under the guise of being courageous, because they are willing to jump of a bridge or climb a steep rock face, but the courage I am talking about here is trusting God not only through the good times, but much more so in the bad ones; to trust that despite all appearances and in the middle of the scariest of prospects and most painful of circumstances, He is indeed working out a good plan for us, a plan to prosper us and not to harm us; to prosper us not in worldly terms, but with an eternal perspective in mind.
I was reading Matthew 12 this morning and the following passage, brought this point of lukewarmness to home once more:
43 When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it.
44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order.
45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.
Jesus is here describing the attitude of the nation of Israel, specifically that of the religious leaders. When we feel convicted by the Holy Spirit and we take a conscious decision to change our ways; to clean up our act, we often do so for a while and in our own strength. We clean up our lives of all the filth, of all unrighteousness, but we forget to fill the void that that has left, with the word of God and by daily living in His presence, which opens up plenty of room for Satan to enter again, only this time the intensity of his presence in our lives is greater and harder to overcome. As we neglect to have Christ stand in the gap between us and our Heavenly Father, we offer the enemy fertile ground for striking again. The commentary on this passage in my bible says: “The book of Ezra records how the people rid themselves of idolatry, but failed to replace it with love for God and obedience to Him. Ridding our lives of sin is the first step. We must also take the second step: filling our lives with God’s word and the Holy Spirit. UNFILLED AND COMPLACENT PEOPLE ARE EASY TARGETS FOR SATAN.”
God in his love and mercy allows us to go through his refining fire. Just as a father would propitiate a set of circumstances for a son or a daughter to find themselves in a place where they can learn a valuable lesson that they may perhaps only have learnt otherwise when it was too little too late. My family and I are in such a place now. At the risk of falling into everlasting lukewarmness , the Father, in his providence, is allowing us to go through a raging fire. Jesus is counselling us personally to buy gold that has been refined in the fire. Only once before have I been in such a place that required such amount of courage as day by day we are trusting that God has his hand upon us and is working out a good purpose in our lives which will not harm us, but prosper us, spiritually speaking. As scary as this place is, I can also appreciate the tremendous blessing that this point in our lives is for God is inviting us to lift up our heads from the chaos around us, and to see beyond what the world sees in such adverse circumstances; he is inviting us to wear white clothes so that we can cover our shameful nakedness; he is offering us salve to put on our eyes, so that we can see. I pray to God that as I wake up each morning, he will wash me in the soothing waters that flow from his word; I pray that these words will engulf my spirit and carry me through one day at a time:
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
I would like to end with a wonderful song which reminded me this morning of the need to not become indifferent about the hope that lies within me; it reminded me of how in God’s eyes lukewarmness is way, way worse than no love for Him at all.
Carol, this one is for you!