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Sometime’s your vision just needs to be cleared

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Have you ever given thought to how easily we can become complacent in just about every aspect of our lives?

For example, how many times on our jobs are we simply going through the motions? We’ve done it the same way so many times that now we don’t even have to think about it. We just do it, giving no thought to any new ideas or methods that may help to make the job easier or more productive. Along the way we miss things that are right in front of us, but all that matters is the doing.

Or have you ever considered the daily route you take to school or work? How many of us can remember the 1st time we took that journey? We were careful to stop when we were supposed to and turn at the right intersection, all because it was new to us. Fast forward a year and how much thought do we give to that same task? I dare say not much, if any at all. We could get there with our eyes closed.

This is what happens when complacency sets in. It clouds our vision. It destroys the anticipation of what might be. We miss new and exciting things that are right in front of us because our senses have become dull.

Did you know this very same thing happens to us in our service to the King? If we’re not careful, church becomes routine. Just another mindless task that we could simply mail in if we chose to do so. And we can definitely miss some incredible things that He has for us.

In his address to the seven churches of Revelation, Jesus confronted the apathy and complacency that had infiltrated the church near the close of the first century. No less than five of the seven churches had serious internal concerns that Jesus called attention to. [1]

  1. The church at Ephesus had lost its first love
  2. The church as Pergamos harbored those that taught false doctrines
  3. The church at Thyatira permitted false teachers to deceive God’s people
  4. The church at Sardis had become weakened to the point of death
  5. The church at Laodicea had become lukewarm to the point of being rejected

Apathy, coldness, indifference, and complacency marked these five churches. Though they all had different specific issues, they all shared a common malady: their vision of who Christ was had become dim and cloudy. They no longer saw Him for who He was.

Today, many of us are in a similar situation such as the churches of Revelation were. We do not love like we did when we first came to know the Lord. Gone is the zeal and enthusiasm for the things of God. Gone also is Christian love for one another. Worse still, many of us aren’t even aware that it’s gone.

We tolerate any teaching that comes from the pulpit because frankly we don’t really care. We don’t “fact check” what is being taught, instead we simply nod in agreement while keeping one eye on the clock. What does Biblical literacy matter anyhow, isn’t that what we pay the pastor for?

So many of our churches are on spiritual life support because they are no longer connected to the vine. Just as a severed branch will remain green for a little while, so it is with churches that have disconnected themselves from the Source of their strength. Like the church at Sardis, the grim reaper is at the door.

Without the passionate flame of the Holy Spirit continuously burning within us, we too become lukewarm and eventually cold and lifeless.

Fortunately, none of these things has to happen. Every one of them is preventable. All that’s required is to ask the Lord to help us. Ask Him to reveal to us where we are with Him.

Are we hot, cold, or lukewarm in our walk with the Lord? Do we love like we did when we first came to Christ, or do we love selectively or not at all?  Do we love the truth of God’s word, or are we content with any doctrine? Are we as connected as we once were, or are we in dire need of a Holy Ghost transfusion?

I’m praying that the Lord will open all of our eyes so that we might see ourselves exactly as he sees us. That he will remove the scales from our eyes and gives us 20/20 spiritual vision.

Be faithful to Him dear friends…

Ron

[1] Revelation chapters 1 & 2

 

 

The dangerous sin of Indifference

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Now, just the mention of the “S” word is a complete turn off to most people today, of this there can be little doubt. That three letter word conjures up other words such as judgement, guilt, and condemnation. None of which are exactly going to have people clamoring to read this post.

I get it.

Speaking of the “S” word, most Christians are aware of what Jesus referred to as the Unpardonable Sin, the blasphemy of the Holy Ghost. According to Jesus, every conceivable type of sin can be forgiven except this one. [1]

That may come as quite a surprise to those who see God as a ‘Grandpa’ figure that winks at every rebellious act of his grandchildren.

While often misunderstood, this statement makes it very clear that this should not be taken lightly, and to say that this is the single most dangerous sin that could be committed would not be an understatement.

There is another one of those “S” words to be avoided that I believe to be of equal importance today, and while not necessarily dooming the offender for all of eternity, nevertheless is of such importance that I believe it merits our attention.

I’m referring to the sin of indifference found in Revelation chapter 3. This is where Jesus confronts the church of Laodicea for their lukewarm condition. So important was this to Jesus that he said that because they were neither hot or cold, but lukewarm, he would vomit them out of his mouth if they did not repent. [2]

That’s because the church of Laodicea lacked a certain key element in their devotion to Christ, and that missing ingredient was passion. Thinking they had it all, Jesus had to remind them that he knew their works, and that they were lacking some very important things.

Imagine Jesus showing up at your church next Sunday and telling you that!

The Laodicean church was a very prosperous church. They were a church on the move. They were the church that didn’t need anyone or anything. If any church knew how to ‘do church’, it was this one. They had it all figured out. No bake sales and building funds needed here, that’s for sure.

They had a major problem though, which was that they were simply going through the motions of ‘doing church’. On the surface, they appeared to be “blessed and highly favored” (a newish term I personally find somewhat arrogant, but that’s another post).

If you haven’t figured it out by now, the Son of God has a real problem with His church not being totally dependent upon him. It’s true because when we become self-reliant, we act as though He doesn’t exist.

Here in America many of our churches are are blinded by the sin of indifference just like the church of Laodicea was. Speaking in broad terms here, our churches are ridiculously wealthy when compared with those in other countries, and what has this gained us?

Has our religious wealth bought us a closer walk with the Lord? Have our overflowing coffers stemmed the tide of worldliness that is so pervasive in our churches today? Have our riches enabled us to mount a successful counter attack against the evils of society? Are our collective billions eliminating hunger, drug abuse, prostitution, sex trafficking, or the homeless problem?

We all know the answer to these questions is a resounding NO. Just as the church of Laodicea found their riches to be their undoing, so it is with many of our own churches today. In essence we, like the Laodicean church, are rich and increased with goods, but are unaware of our own nakedness and blindness before the Lord. [3]

The Church was never intended to be like this. Even a cursory look at the book of Acts reveals that the true mission of the Church was to go and make disciples. [4] It was never intended that the church become fat and lazy, content to rest upon its laurels. God’s Church was always supposed to be a doing Church!

God has warned us in many ways that this would happen as the church crept closer to the time when Jesus would come the second time. He warned us through his word  and he warned us through the mouth of his servants. [5]

Consider the following response to a questionnaire from a major US newspaper in the latter part of the 19th century. This paper had sent out a question to many of the prominent people of the day, and it just so happened that the founder of the Salvation Army was given the question. Below is his reply to “what are the chief dangers that confront the coming century?”.

“The chief dangers which confront the coming century will be Religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, Forgiveness without Repentance, Salvation without Regeneration, Politics without God, and Heaven without Hell”. [6]

Amazingly, every point that William Booth made well over 100 years ago has come to pass, both in the Church and in our present society. Allowed to fester unchecked, this is what the sin of indifference brings: a counterfeit Church.

We do not however, serve a counterfeit God. Far from it! The God we serve is “able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all we ask or think, according to the power that works in us“. [7] For this very reason, I believe that from within this present day Laodicean church the Lord is raising up a people that will once again trust Him to do what he said he would do.

Beloved, we serve a God who knows our very thoughts. So intimately does He know us that he hears the cry of our heart. In fact, he has numbered every hair upon our heads! This is how deeply our covenant relationship with Christ runs.

All around us is despair, ruin, and fear. Yet we are urged onward by the One who abides within us, for greater is He that is within us than he that is in the world. That my friends is the promise of God. Our walk with God is not dependent on the circumstances around us, for God is above all.

My prayer this Lords day is that we would shake off the heavy bands of indifference and press towards the mark of the high calling in Christ Jesus. Call upon the Lord to renew the passion you once had for Him. Replace the cloak of lukewarmness with the fire of the Holy Spirit and see what the Lord will do in your church and in your life!

Be blessed,

Ron

[1] Matthew 12:31

[2] Revelation 3:16

[3] Revelation 3:17

[4] Matthew 28: 19,20

[5] 1st Timothy 4: 1-3

[6] William Booth, Salvation Army

[7] Ephesians 3:20