Note: This is the second of a two-part article. Click here for part one.
For a time, I took regular ministry trips to Vietnam. During one of those trips, I became desperately ill. I contracted a severe illness and all I knew was that my body was fighting desperately to get something out of it. After a lot of prayer, and seeing the doctors, I finally received a clean bill of health.
What I experienced with that sickness is, in some way, a picture of what the Bible describes about the church of Laodecia in Revelation 3:16 (NKJV), "So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth." It gives me sense of what Christ means when He wants to get the lukewarmness out of the church.
See, lukewarmness makes God sick and everything within Him wants to be rid of it. Yet many professing Christians are worshipping the god of worldliness while serving the kingdoms of this world. By doing so, our actions are a form of despising God Himself.
Lukewarmness comes on gradually. We're hot and on fire for God. Then the process of justifying and rationalizing sin begins to take place. When truth is finally shoved aside, we become friends with the world and are no longer hot, nor cold, but simply lukewarm.
As believers in the Lord, we know that our bodies are to be the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19). So each time we trust in the world system to sustain us, we are placing the temple of Holy Spirit in bondage to a satanic world system. We become idolaters and worshipers of this world. Now, I'm not talking about in the natural course of relationships and building business or developing success. I'm talking about the love of this world and living in a worldly fashion. Obviously this lukewarmness is not acceptable to a Holy God.
What I saw during my first trip to Vietnam in 1990, became a life lesson to me. The poverty and oppression of the general populace were a sharp contrast to the spiritual riches of those precious persecuted Vietnamese Christians. They were hungry for God, even in the midst of scarcely adequate food and resources. They met under threat of their lives and yet joyously worshipped and encouraged one another in the Lord. To me, they embodied what Christ spoke to the Church of Smyrna in Revelation 2:9a saying, "I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich)."
But to those who become enamored by the abundant blessing we enjoy, I can hear Christ saying, as He did in Revelation 3:17, "Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked." It is so easy for us to become naked and poor spiritually, in the midst of our physical comforts and the riches around us.
The loving and compassionate Christ, who laid down His life for us on the cross of Calvary, is the very same Jesus who says He will vomit us out of His mouth if we're found to be lukewarm through comfortable compromise with the world. The Lord leaves no room for carnal Christianity or worldliness. In fact, carnal Christianity is a self-delusion. It's just another way of saying, I want to live for the world, but I also want to be accepted by God. I want to partake of the pleasures of sin, but I also want fire insurance. Either we're disciples of Christ or not. Either we love God, or we are at enmity with Him.
Jesus loved us so much that He voluntarily laid down His life and poured out His blood for us; choosing in His flesh to be separated from God during that climactic moment on the cross. And so doing, uniting Himself with us, that we might have eternity with Him. What love! He paid a very high cost of love on Calvary for us! How can we return to Him less than a genuinely yielded life consecrated to Him?
Whatever we choose, there are consequences to our choices—good or bad.
Proverbs 13:13 says, "He who despises the word will be destroyed, but he fears the commandment will be rewarded." God's point is clear to us. When God's truth is shoved aside and His commandments are ignored, we bring judgment upon ourselves or we suffer consequences. When we continue to set our affections between two worlds and persistently live a compromised spiritual life, we will suffer the consequences. Simple obedience to God, on the other hand, brings great reward and yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness.
God passionately desires communion with us. He continues to reach out to us in many different ways. Through His loving chastisements, God wants to bring us to a place of walking with Him in oneness of heart, soul, mind and spirit. His chastisements mature us so that others will see Him living through us. They will see that we are different from the world, in our values, the way we act and how we do business. All aspects of our lives will be transformed, wholly acceptable unto God. Either we receive His instructions and reap its rewards, or we will despise them and suffer the consequences. Either we deliberately cross the Jordan and enter into His rest, or we continue to wander in the wilderness of life.
Romans 12 :1-2 says, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
My friends, don't be stuck between two kingdoms. We live in this world, but we are not of it. We don't have to be worldly to have a godly influence. I want to encourage you to cross the Jordan and possess the land of promise.
As Joshua challenged the children of Israel, so I challenge you, "And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Josh. 24:15).
Article adapted from Chapter 1 of It's Time to Cross the Jordan by Doug Stringer.
Doug Stringer is founder and president of Somebody Cares America and Somebody Cares International, a global network bringing hope and healing to communities through prayer initiatives, compassion outreaches and cooperative efforts. He is the author of numerous books, including In Search of a Father's Blessing and Leadership Awakening: Foundational Principles for Lasting Success.
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