Let us resolve to not be lukewarm
New Year; I have to say that I never was that inspired by New Year celebrations. I would go through the motions of celebrating it, of course, and in wilder days it would be a good excuse for a night of heavy drinking. But I was, at best, lukewarm in my response to it. I rarely made resolutions, and when I did, like so many others, I had broken them within a matter of days. Whereupon I hit upon the only New Year resolution I have ever kept - "not to make a New Year resolution." Except, of course, that, in itself, was a breach of the resolution.
We have enjoyed a really good time over Christmas, as we celebrated, as a church family, the stunning truth of God coming to be with us. Sadly, this breathtaking fact usually passes most people by and fades away completely by the time of the January sales. We press on to the next big thing. Christmas goes and New Year's eve comes. Then that too passes. And the next time, if at all, that Jesus gets thought of is at a funeral, a wedding or at Easter.
If that were not sad enough, it is even sadder when so many professing Christians are at best lukewarm to the amazing truths of the gospel. I have been reading a book ("Crazy Love" by Francis Chan) that exposes the tendency towards minimizing its impact on our day to day life. The author, Francis Chan, points out that Jesus makes radical demands on our time, our money, and on what matters most to us. He told his disciples that if they wanted to follow him they must take up their cross daily. He called for complete committment - "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your mind..." etc. But, he says, we are often content to serve God with the leftovers, whatever time is left after our busy lives, our frantic social engagements, our pressing need to watch Downton Abbey, or Sherlock, our leisure time pursuits and so on. And when we donate a hasty thirty minutes in the morning we think we have done well. We are called to share our faith with people, but we do not do so because we fear losing them as friends. Yet we do not seem to fear Jesus, who after telling us that all authority in heaven and on earth had been given to him, tells us to go and make disciples. We put the keeping of relationships with our friends above keeping the commands of Jesus. Put like that and we probably all wince a little.
I certainly have been challenged by what I have read so far. I know that there remain areas in my life where I am showing signs of lukewarmness and I need to repent and turn to a gracious God to ask him to help me. Jesus warned the lukewarm church of Laodicea that if it did not turn to him and receive from him what it was lacking, its lukewarmness was going to cause him to spit the church out of his mouth (Revelation 3:16). So, my guess is that we all need to take a long hard look, this New Year, at how wholehearted our committment is. And then we will need to turn back to Jesus and seek his grace to help us. Jesus tells us that we need to rely on him for everything that we do (John 15:5).
And here is a great prayer that you may wish to join me in praying:
"O God, I have tasted your goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want you; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me your glory, I pray, so that I may know you indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, 'Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.' Then give me grace to rise and follow you up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long." A. W. Tozer, cited in Francis Chan, "Crazy Love"
And you may want to add:
And Lord help me to be wholehearted in following Jesus, seeking always to do what he has called me to do.
May 2014 be the year in which our half-hearted, lukewarm Christianity gets ignited, to the glory and honour of Jesus Christ our Lord.