Thursday, February 18, 2010


I am currently studying Francis Chan's book Crazy Love with my Bible Study group. This week's reading truly made me search my soul... the chapter is entitled "Profile of the Lukewarm" and it is basically a self-assessment of one's "temperature" as a Christ-follower.

I don't ever want to forget the impact that this chapter had on me; that is why I am posting HUGE parts of it here on my blog today. Here goes...

The man (from Matthew 13:44) joyfully sold all that he had so that he could obtain the only thing that mattered. He knew that what he had stumbled upon - the kingdom of heaven - was more valuable than anything he had, so he went for it with everything in him.

This kind of enthusiastic response to God's love is entirely appropriate. Yet what a contrast to our typical response at discovering the same treasure!

My caution to you is this: Do not assume you are good soil. (Francis Chan is referring to the parable of the sower from Matthew 13 here.)

I think most American churchgoers are the soil that chokes the seed because of all the thorns. Thorns are anything that distracts us from God. When we want God and a bunch of other stuff, then that means we have thorns in our soil. A relationship with God simply cannot grow when money, sins, activities, favorite sports teams, addictions, or commitments are piled on top of it.

Most of us have too much in our lives. As David Goetz writes, "Too much of the good life ends up being toxic, deforming us spiritually." A lot of good things are good by themselves, but all of it together keeps us from living healthy, fruitful lives for God.

I will say it again: Do not assume you are good soil.

Has your relationship with God actually changed the way you live? Do you see evidence of God's kingdom in your life? Or are you choking it out slowly by spending too much time, energy, money, and thought on the things of this world?

Are you satisfied being "godly enough" to get yourself to heaven, or to look good in comparison to others? Or can you say with Paul that you "want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death"? (Philippians 3:10)

The American church is a difficult place to fit in if you want to live out New Testament Christianity. The goals of American Christianity are often a nice marriage, children who don't swear, and good church attendance. Taking the words of Christ literally and seriously is rarely considered. That's for the "radicals" who are "unbalanced" and who go "overboard". Most of us want a balanced life that we can control, that is safe, and that does not involve suffering.

At this point of my reading, many thoughts swirled in my soul... I want to be like the man from Matthew 13:44... I want to be good soil...

Francis Chan continues on to describe the lukewarm person:

LUKEWARM PEOPLE attend church fairly regularly. It is what is expected of them, what they believe "good Christians" do, so they go. (Read: Isaiah 29:13)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE give money to charity and to the church... as long as it doesn't impinge on their standard of living. (Read: Luke 21:1-4)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE tend to choose what is popular over what is right when they are in conflict. (Read: Matthew 23:5-7)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE don't really want to be saved from their sins; they want only to be saved from the penalty of their sin. Lukewarm people don't really believe that this new life Jesus offers is better than the old sinful one. (Read: Romans 6:1-2)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE are moved by stories about people who do radical things for Christ, yet they do not act. Lukewarm people call "radical" what Jesus expected of all His followers. (Read: James 4:17)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE rarely share their faith with their neighbors, coworkers, or friends. (Read: Matthew 10:32-33)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE gauge their morality or "goodness" by comparing themselves to the secular world. They feel satisfied that while they aren't as hard-core for Jesus as so-and-so, they are nowhere as horrible as the guy down the street. (Read: Luke 18:11-12)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE say they love Jesus, and He is, indeed, a part of their lives. But only a part. They give Him a section of their time, their money, and their thoughts, but He isn't allowed to control their lives. (Read: Luke 9:57-62)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE love God, but they do not love Him with all their heart, soul, and strength. (Read: Matthew 22:37-38)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE love others but do not seek to love others as much as they love themselves. (Read: Luke 14:12-14)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE will serve God and others, but there are limits to how far they will go or how much time, money, and energy they are willing to give. (Read: Luke 18:21-25)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE think about life on earth much more often than eternity in heaven. Regarding this, C.S. Lewis writes, "If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this." (Read: Colossians 3:2)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE are thankful for their luxuries and comforts, and rarely consider trying to give as much as possible to the poor. (Read: Matthew 25:34, 40)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE do whatever is necessary to keep themselves from feeling too guilty. They want to do the bare minimum, to be "good enough" without it requiring too much of them. (Read: Matthew 13:44-46)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE are continually concerned with playing it safe. This focus on safe living keeps them from sacrificing and risking for God. (Read: 1 Timothy 6:17-18)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE feel secure because they attend church, made a profession of faith at age twelve, were baptized, come from a Christian family, vote Republican, or live in America. (Read: Matthew 7:21)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE do not live by faith; their lives are structured so they never have to. The truth is, their lives wouldn't look much different if they suddenly stopped believing in God. (Read: Luke 12:16-21, Hebrews 11)

LUKEWARM PEOPLE probably drink and swear less than average, but besides that, they really aren't very different from your typical unbeliever. They equate partially sanitized lives with holiness, but they couldn't be more wrong. (Read: Matthew 23:25-28)

As 2 Corinthians 13:5 says, it is a call to "examine yourselves, to see whather you are in the faith; test yourselves."

We are all messed-up human beings, and no one is totally immune to the behaviors described in the previous examples. However, there is a difference between a life that is characterized by these sorts of mentalities and habits and a life that is in the process of being radically transformed.

Jesus didn't say that if you wanted to follow Him you could do it in a lukewarm manner. He said, "Take up your cross and follow me."

Jesus asks for everything. But we try to give Him less.

He is saying that lukewarm, halfhearted following is useless (in Luke 14:34-35), that it sickens our souls. Lukewarm and uncommitted faith is completely useless.

Soul-stirring, isn't it? "Search me, O God, and know my heart..." (from Psalm 139:23 NIV)

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