I think I would have had a better chance at staying Christian if I would have been a Lukewarm Christian. For all of you unfamiliar with the phrase, Google (or Bing or DuckDuckGo) Revelation 3:16. Lukewarm Christians are the C minus and D plus bench warmers of the faith. Most of the time, they are not specifically named or called out (but you can usually think of a few pretty easily if pressed). Their church attendance may or may not be consistent. Whether or not they show up is not really the point. There are plenty of apathetic dolts sitting in pews. Lukewarm Christians’ real problem is that they don’t have an ounce of On-Fire, self-sacrificial, radical love for Jesus. They don’t fast or intercede. They don’t witness or prophecy. Their Bible is left mostly unread.
Pastors and preachers love to talk about Lukewarm Christians. Many a Sunday Sermon can be whittled down to its essential message—don’t be a hypocritical, do-nothing, half-ass believer. If you’re going to be a part of this life-changing, life-inducing faith, shouldn’t you act like Jesus has an affect on your behavior?
But this is where the pastors and the preachers go wrong.
Lukewarm Christians are what every pastor should hope for. Preachers should be shut up in their prayer closets petitioning the Lord for more of these dopey characters.
Why? Because Lukewarm Christians hold to a theoretical faith. And an untested faith in a man who died two thousand years ago is much more likely to stand the test of time than that same belief put to the test. Does the message of the Gospel work? Who knows? The Lukewarm Christians don’t. They’ve never tried telling a stranger about resurrection life. Does God heal the sick? The Lukewarm Christians aren’t sure. They’ve never laid hands on the sick to check if they might recover. On the other hand, Miss On-Fire-4-Jee-Sus steps out in faith on a regular basis. And what does she get? Mixed results, at best. It’s a lot harder to stay Christian when your dead relatives start piling up after not recovering from the laying on of hands. It’s a lot harder to stay Christian when the life changing good news of an alleged resurrection doesn’t rock the world of your unsaved friends. Putting God to the test is a good way to lose your faith. I’m not too convinced he (or she or they) are too worried about showing up.
Also, Lukewarm Christians aren’t as concerned with being better Christians, thus making them more chill about the whole thing and less awkward and anxiety-ridden than the On-Fire types. This relaxed attitude keeps them less agitated by convicting sermons, less fearful of hellfire scenarios, and less prone to crippling indecision about minor life choices. Christian communities are full of people. And any organization with people needs a generous serving of go-with-the-flow types to grease the wheels and keep things moving. Pastor, if everybody were as On-Fire as you, we’d have a power struggle every other Sunday, and you don’t really want that, do you? Lukewarm Christians stay Christians because they don’t get in the way. Getting in the way is a good way to get rebuked. And getting rebuked is a good way to get offended. And offended, On-Fire Christians leave their church and leave Jesus and don’t stay Christian.
Finally, Lukewarm Christians actually believe in grace. If you profess to a faith as radical, rule-filled, and self-denying as Christianity, you gotta believe in a little leeway. And Lukewarm Christians love playing in the margin. They don’t get bent out over their sins. They put up with a little self-hypocrisy to keep their own sanity. Lukewarm Christians know that their home-boy Jesus has got their back when it comes to sliding through those pearly gates. Meanwhile, the On-Fires vent and groan about their own insufficiency and failure. These try-hards deny the work of Christ as they pretend to advance a kingdom through their own yearnings and burnings. Our Lukewarm friends may be oblivious, sloppy, and sluggish, but they’ll do just fine with the other wretches and outcasts who skate by and hope for the best.
I used to be a Christian. And I’m sure there were times when I was Lukewarm and other times when I was On-Fire.
Being Lukewarm is fine. You go to church, you make relatively decent life choices, and you stay Christian.
Being On-Fire is an up and down affair featuring never before reached levels of bliss and debilitating episodes of self-hatred, anxiety, and fear. It’s not worth it and it won’t help you stay Christian.
Stay Lukewarm and stay Christian.