WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE ‘LUKEWARM’?
Relationally, we often speak in temperature-terms to communicate our passion for someone or something. A passionate wife may whisper to her husband on date night, “I’m hot for you“; similarly, we often speak of a bitter, relationally-distant person as “cold.” Simply put, to have a “lukewarm” heart is to have a heart that is in between passionate love for God and cold contempt of or indifference toward God. There are people who are obviously non-Christians. And there are people who are obviously Christians. And then there are lukewarm people – people where you can’t really tell. A lukewarm person may or may not be a converted Christian; there’s not enough evidence for confidence in either direction.
This is obviously a grave condition because in this passage Jesus says of the continually lukewarm person, “I will spit you out of my mouth”.
WHAT’S THE CURE?
For brevity’s sake, here’s a brief sketch of the biblical Cure for a lukewarm heart…
- Acknowledge your condition. The reason the church at Laodicea remained lukewarm was because they remained deceived and hard-hearted about their condition. “You say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing’, not realizing you are pitiable, blind, poor, and naked.” (vs. 17) LISTEN TO ME: If you are awakening to your spiritual condition, realizing you are “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked” it is because God is pursuing you in his love! As Tim Keller has said, “A fear of God’s absence is a sign of God’s presence.” The desire and ability to acknowledge your present condition is the first step toward curing a lukewarm heart.
- Meditate on Jesus and his finished work. Most people think that if they love God enough then he will love them. To be straightforward: that is a lie straight from hell. The theme of the whole Bible is this: when we see how much God has first loved us, then we will love Him. Do you know what will produce white-hot love for God? A heart completely and utterly entranced by God’s white-hot love for us demonstrated at The Cross – Jesus Christ crucified there, on that tree, for my transgressions. A lukewarm heart is characterized by lukewarm thoughts of the love of God and must be marinated white-hot thoughts of the love of God – cross shaped ones. Practically, I suggest…
- Reading portions of Scripture about God’s finished work for us (Romans, the gospels, Ephesians 1-2, Galatians!)
- Listening to and singing hymns – bloody, cross-filled ones that are lyrically rich with the love of God
- Memorizing Romans 8
- Taking long walks with Scripture-laden notecards in your hands, meditating on the gospel
- Pray to God for the grace you need. God is the best Dad that has ever lived. Good Dads give good gifts to their children who ask for them, and God says that He Himself is the best gift of them all (Matthew 13:44-45, Psalm 16). Pray that God will do what he has promised and heal your lukewarm heart. He will respond (Luke 11:9-13). “I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them… They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow; they shall flourish like the grain; they shall blossom like the vine” (Hos. 14:4,7).
- Confess and repent of all known sins. A lukewarm heart is often the result of forgetting this aspect of gospel living – the gift of confession and repentance. Confession is how the soul vomits up poison. Countless Christians labor under heavy burdens and lukewarm communion with God all because they neglect the priceless gift of confession. “But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7) Confess your sins to God, yourself, and at least one other Christian.
You can melt a cold and even frozen heart with the warmth of God’s love. Trust in the Lord. Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you. Join us next Sunday at North Raleigh Church of the Nazarene as we welcome our District Superintendent – Dr. Greg Mason.