2008-07-10 - God's Limited Patience
Rev 3:14-19 "To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 'So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. 17 'Because you say, "I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing," and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, 18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. 19 'Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.
This verse has recently been brought to mind by Adam, who is doing a series on Laodicea. I read these words for the first time in a while and was immediately stuck by the same thing that always hits me. Review the qualities - neither hot, nor cold; self-indulgent, self-absorbed, thinking of self as so safe, wise and mighty when self is actually so frighteningly frail. I see the world, our civilization, our nations, corporations and - our churches. First, let me say that this is a vast generalization. There are organizations and churches that are shining examples, cities on a hill, that lead and operate by strong principles and convictions that honor Christ. There are a number of wonderful exceptions to what is admittedly a broad brush. But those exceptions are brilliant lights shining in a vast sea where the light of faith and faithfulness fades by degrees to terrible areas of darkness where truth is not known or tolerated.
When we lose our willingness to say that something is wrong when that thing is clearly so, the salt loses it's saltiness (Matt 9:15, Mark 9:50, Like 14:34) or preserving power. Properly balancing firm conviction with a humble, forgiving spirit leaves the door open for the wrong to be corrected and the offender to be accepted, just as we were accepted by Christ. Paul often debated, vigorously at times, and won many arguments. But there are no records of conversions from his debates. He may have planted seeds that others watered before the truth began to grow in the hearts of his fellow debaters.
Accepting the morals of the culture around us leads to our own detriment and ineffectiveness (Psalm 119:113-115).The news is filled with references to the results of the culture of relative morals that has grown up around us like weeds. There are immutable truths whether our culture believes it or not. We are told that judgment begins in the house of the Lord. If this is so, then we have every reason to dust off our Bibles and start refreshing and renewing our minds with the principles and truths that it contains. If your schedule does not allow you to attend church regularly, prayerfully find another source of good teaching. There are good radio programs, some with websites and podcasts that make it easy to fit into any schedule.
Pray. I'm not talking about long formal prayers. God wants to hear from you what is on your heart and mind. Just talk to Him. Start with five minutes a day, for those immediately around you - family and friends. It may not take long before other needful concerns come to mind.
Giving God back a portion of the time He gives us is for our spiritual health. Jesus said that we, Christians, are the light of the world. If our light goes out, the world that lives on that darkening sea will have no star by which to navigate. The solution to darkness is light. We must know the truth in order to bring the light.