Tag Archives: half-hearted

64: Lukewarm

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I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Revelation 3:15-16 NIV

It is quite possible to coast along these days as a professed follower of Christ. One can simply be seen to do all the right things, baking for church sales, singing in the choir or worship team, tithing, going to Bible study, etc. etc. and you could have a faith tinier than a mustard seed, or none at all, and no-one would know. These are all good things to be doing of course, and perhaps it’s not surprising that in our surface-obsessed culture there can easily be style without substance even in the place where we are meant to be living out the true meaning of life.

It is more surprising, perhaps, that such lukewarm attitudes were already to be found in the first century in the Laodicean church. In a time and culture where being a Christian could get you killed, it seems quite odd that the Lord should chide any of his followers for being tepid in their faith. But it seems from my research that Laodicea wasn’t persecuted in the same way as other churches at the time, and perhaps this, coupled with the riches they had that Christ goes on to talk about, had left this group feeling complacent, self-sufficient and therefore quite akin to a lot of our own faith communities in the western “developed” world today.

Staying ambivalent and comfortable is very tempting when there is nothing pushing us to be different or shaken. And yet the heart of the gospel is to be counter-cultural, and Jesus said that the first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul and all our mind (Matthew 22:37), indeed with our everything. Following Jesus is an all or nothing venture. It isn’t something we hang up in the wardrobe along with our Sunday best to harbour mothballs for the rest of the week. If it is, then we really have not understood our calling to be disciples. Loving Jesus means being willing to do the work we are given, where we are chosen to do it, and often involves sacrifices and worldly discomfort and disappointment.

People who are apathetic about God are the hardest to persuade of his love. It is the comfortable middle classes who see no need for a saviour, and that appears to have been the problem in this church nearly two thousand years ago. Human nature does not change very much! Even atheists have a kind of religious passion that one can engage with, but an agnostic or a tepid believer is often happy sitting on the fence, dangling his or her legs over each side, hedging their bets and perhaps picking and choosing the bits of Scripture that they find easiest to live with. They are the people who hold the spread of the gospel back far more than any persecution, and there is a bit of them in all of us.

That bit of us that doesn’t want to be challenged, that wants to read a cosy book about how easy life is supposed to be, wants to hear about gentle Jesus meek and mild, to sing about a personal saviour but which will avert its gaze from a bloody crown of thorns and go pale and indignant at the thought of sharing in the sufferings of Christ and glazed and distant at the idea of falling into the mystery of love.

Let us then, come back to that first flame of love, and fan it with our deepest longings for God, so that there is no danger of his finding us distasteful!


©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo on Yahoo used under creative commons license.


57: Distracted

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I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.” I Corinthians 7:35 NLT

As I was playing Bejewelled Blitz last night and wondering what to write about for today I heard my own sarcastic reply… why not write about distractions? Now normally I come to write my daily piece from a prayerful place, but sometimes I do get carried away doing other things, and admittedly, sometimes mindless and pointless things. The world is full of distractions, isn’t it? And we human beings seem to have an innate talent for stopping ourselves from being productive. We play games and procrastinate and put things off because the time isn’t right or we don’t feel like it, or because we don’t see the point or we persuade ourselves that we’re not going to do it right. So many excuses and ways of scuppering ourselves. And technology has only added to the problems. Screens are everywhere, and full of zombie-creating, soporific games and entertainments.

I think in this age we need to be more diligent about the use of our precious time than in any time gone before. Martha was distracted as we looked at her yesterday by all the chores she had left to do to feed the great group of people that had just descended on her house. Imagine if she had had an ipad as well! And Paul in our verse today is telling us that even marriage can be a distraction from having our full attention on the Lord. Because the Lord’s work is all encompassing, it can’t be gone at half-hearted. If we come to him with lukewarm hearts or double-minded, we are not a great deal of use to him. Like the fishermen who left their nets to follow him, we need to be prepared to set aside the normal rules, our time and sometimes even our livelihoods.

The best way that I have found to keep doing the work that has been set before me is to embrace self-discipline, some kind of routine and most of all, to pray all the time. Paul tells the Thessalonians to pray unceasingly. I know that can sound a bit impossible, but that’s because we are imagining walking round the supermarket saying our prayers out loud. Really I think that Paul means that the more time we spend with God, the more we find that our very lives become prayer. Prayer – the constant communing, our ongoing relationship with the Lord – becomes an attitude that we start to live by, of handing every moment over to him, offering everything up to him, so that even in our play and in our rest times, both of which every healthy life needs, we are cultivating an awareness and a togetherness with the Lord. When this starts to take hold in our lives, we find that we see and experience God in everything, and with him placed first in our heart, nothing can pull us away or distract us from his constancy, his mercy and his enduring love.


©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

Photo from Morguefile.com