By: Joshua Woodlief
I am starting to understand what the real issue is with Christians and churches in America. We have a really messed up view of Jesus. We don't have a high view of God, but rather we act so flippant when we approach Him. Our false perception of God creates apathy in our lives and in our pursuit of him. This halfhearted pursuit is called "lukewarmness". When Christians are lukewarm about Jesus, then the product is lukewarm, powerless churches. I have been praying lately that Jesus would help me to love him more. The key to not being lukewarm is to love Jesus and others more. I love my fiance so much that I show her tangible signs of my love. I don't say "I love you and I hope that you feel it some day". I have to show her that I love her with my actions, not just my insincere words. It is not enough to say, I have to show (see 1 Cor 4:20). Jesus says "If you love Me then keep my commands". It's pretty simple, If we love Jesus we do what he says. He also goes on to say... The one who says, "I have come to know Him," without keeping His commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him... If we were truly honest with ourselves we would say that most days our lives do not show Jesus that we love him.
So, what's the solution? We can't do it on our own! He has to help us love him more than the things that surround us. He has to remind us that to love God is to keep his commands. He has to remind us to love him everyday. No matter how hard we try, without the Spirit's help and power, we can't love God. I think I am at that point in my prayer life that I can say "I don't love you as much as I should" and for him to see that my desire is to love him. This honesty with myself and the admission that I need help has begun to bring new life into my relationship with him.
Lately I have been studying what it truly means to follow Jesus. It is different from what I was taught growing up in church. It is hard to follow Jesus. If anyone tells you that following this way is easy then he is a liar. It is the hardest thing a person can attempt to do. This is why He says that the road is narrow and hard to find. I have a good feeling that American churches are giving people directions to a road that doesn't exist. We have been reading the right map, but come to discover that it was upside down the whole time. Can we get good directions please?
Following Jesus is a huge sacrifice, but it is a sacrifice that is so worth the pain. I love the parable that talks about the man finding a treasure in a field that goes and sells everything he owns to get it. That is such a beautiful picture of what it means to follow Jesus. It is also a scary one. The sacrifice is everything... I want to be like that man. I want to say "all of this stuff is waste and I am willing to give it all up for this greater treasure". I want to be like this man who sees this great treasure and his only response is "I've got to have that". This goes back to the inaccurate view of God. We teach people that they can have a bit of this and a bit of that and still love Jesus just enough to be on the right road one day. But Jesus says the kingdom is like the man that gives up everything to buy this great treasure. We don't believe that Jesus is worth everything though. We may not say this, but many times our actions prove this to be true. He gets the easiest parts to give away, but we rarely say like David "I will not offer a sacrifice that costs me nothing." Jesus has become the fix for our sin, but not the love of our hearts. I'm not saying that I have to go sell everything, but I have to be willing to do whatever it takes to have Jesus. In our churches we have a "do the bare minimum" attitude. I'm scared to say that I believe that Jesus requires more of us who are so called Christians.
I heard a sermon the other day and it pretty much wrecked my life... Jesus said that it is hard for a rich man to enter heaven. I have always thought this to mean the wealthiest of the world (people who have more than I), but how do we define rich? When 1/2 of the worlds population lives on less than $2 a day, I think that I fall into the rich category. If make $35,000 a year, it is more than half the world will see in 48 years. If I were to make $35,000 for 48 years I would have made $1,680,000. Francis Chan's sermon brought so much conviction to me, because like the rich man, many times my possessions own me. I live a safe comfortable life and Jesus wants all of me. He wants not only my heart, but also for me to be willing to give up everything for the kingdom. Most days I love things and security more than I love Jesus. this is why I desperately need his help! He knows my struggle and I have confessed it, but I want to live differently from other Christians.
I am sure that when our lives begin to look more like the man in the field people are going to think that we are crazy. In the words of Francis Chan "We say that this kind of living is over the top and for those who take it too far, but this is what Jesus expected from all of his followers." This journey from lukewarm to obsessed is one that will not come quickly. When we are honest with ourselves about the fact that Jesus is not the object of our affection, then He will begin to change our hearts. We can be healed of the disease called apathy if we will only confess it to Jesus who already knows. We can begin to see our lives and our churches radically change if we would only turn the map right side up...