Friday, September 25, 2009

No More Mediocrity!

There’s a virus that appears to be running rampant in the church body. No, it’s not the swine flu or any physical virus, but it is one that can lead to spiritual death. It is quite simply the spirit of mediocrity.

On its face, it seems harmless enough. Maybe you’re a Christian but you haven’t been to church in a while. Maybe you attend service every Sunday but you’re a happy or not-so-happy bench warmer. Maybe you even find yourself serving the Lord in your actions, but somewhere along the way you have lost your passion and zeal for Christ. Sometimes we find ourselves going through the motions, so careful to do what’s right but void of the “right” spirit. I have certainly experienced this last one more than once in my Christian walk. However, God expects more from us. At times, we have to move push, press, and revive ourselves so that we can walk victoriously in what God has called us to do. Only then can we mature in Him and produce the fruit we are instructed to bear.

First, let me say that we all get tired from time to time. We’re human. The only danger is if we stay in this state because it seems that it has potential to move us to mediocrity. The Bible instructs us not to be weary in well-doing and not to faint, indicating that this is a very possible state for believers. We can’t let our tiredness, frustration, or discouragement lead us into mediocrity.

In the third chapter of Revelations, we learn about the church of the Laodiceans. Apparently, Laodicea was a very wealthy city with successful banking, wool manufacturing, and a medical school. The city had a problem with the water supply. At one point, they built an aqueduct to get water to the city from hot springs. However, by the time the water made it to the city, it was lukewarm and unfavorable to drink because of it. Not many people like lukewarm water.

Anyway, the church in the city had become lukewarm, just like the water supply. In other words, they didn’t really stand for Christ. They were possibly indifferent and idle. They were Christian in name but operating in selfishness and obviously had grown apathetic in their love for God.

Christ says to the Laodiceans, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Rev. 3:15, 16). Maybe their riches had led them to lives of complacency in Christ. Maybe they felt like they had things under control. The bottom line is that wealth, health, and ease can be deadly deceptions, but Christ will not tolerate indifference towards Him.

The Lord addresses each point of their wealth and “flips the script” as we like to say. He says, “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” The Lord tells them to get their spiritual treasures from him. The Laodiceans also were proud of their wool manufacturing and eye salve that came from the medical school, but the Lord tells them to purchase white garments from Him (His righteousness) and to get healing from their eyes from him so that they could see His truth.

The good news is that even if we discover that we have settled into a place of complacency, the Lord’s grace can cover us. We have an opportunity today to turn our indifference toward him around. Jesus tells the church, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore and repent” (Rev. 3:19). We must be swift to ask for forgiveness, refuse to go back that way again, and in earnest passion, we should pursue the things of God and the will that He has for our lives.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What's Your Final Answer?

Lately, I’ve found myself asking so many questions as many close family members and friends struggle with serious health challenges, heavy financial burdens, and devastating job losses. Out of the many questions, one always rises like cream to the top. I wonder why. Maybe you’ve wondered why you’re facing the giant that towers above you. You may wonder how you’re going to get through the crisis. You may be asking yourself how to respond to others around you are suffering. We have so many questions, but there is a final answer to them found in God’s Word.

Asking the question “Why?” in the midst of suffering seems pretty logical. After all, Job endured the suffering, but what plagued him most was why he suffered. He was given a host of incorrect answers from his friends, but in the end, God didn’t really answer Job’s question. Instead, God reminded Job that it was better to know Him than the answers to his questions.

When we suffer and it is not a direct consequence of sin, we have to rely on and trust in God. He’s sovereign and in control. Our final answer should be to continue to love Him and love one another with compassion.

Love is a word that’s really been watered down by the world and has come to mean much less than what God intended. The depth of God’s love cannot be measured. It’s supernatural and powerful, extending far beyond what we can imagine.

Chapter 13 in I Corinthians beautifully instructs us about love. The second verse says, “And though I have the gift of prophesy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity [love], I am nothing.” Paul lets us know that we can know the future, understand deep mysteries, have unending knowledge, and have deep faith, but without the love of God, we are nothing.

Paul goes on to explain that love suffers long. When we love as Christ loves us, we don’t look inward to ourselves, but we look up to God. God’s love causes us to be unselfish, and as a result, we love outward to others. Love automatically shifts our focus to Him instead of our problem.

Having the love of God is like putting gas in an engine. It fuels us, making our gifts and service to Him useful. In addition, God’s love enables us to go through the storms of life without caving under the pressure.

I Corinthians 13:7 explains, “[Love] beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” When we are operating in God’s perfect love, we can bear all things, not just some. We can believe and trust that the Lord is going to keep his promises. Hope is always present, no matter how dismal the situation may seem. Finally, we can endure the pain, discomfort, and suffering, knowing that the Lord is going to supply our every need.

Paul tells us that the greatest of all the spiritual gifts is love. So, what is the final answer to our questions? The final answer has to be that we know that God loves us. “[Love] never faileth: but whether there be prophesies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away” (I Cor. 13:8). God’s love never fails in any situation.
When we don’t know how to respond to life’s challenges and difficulties, remember that there is an answer and response that never fails. He loves us, and when we love Him and spread His love, we are equipped to stand strong against Satan’s attacks.

Paul says that “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” We may not have the specific answers to some of the hard questions, but one day we will when we meet Him face to face.

Until then, I pray that the Lord will continue to shower you with His love and that you draw closer to Him, sharing and extending His love to others.

Love to hear from you. Drop me a line . . .