Lukewarm Disciples

“It is not scientific doubt, not atheism, not pantheism, not agnosticism, that in our day and in this land is likely to quench the light of the Gospel. It is a proud, sensuous, selfish, luxurious, church-going, hollow-hearted prosperity.”

What year do you think the above quote was written?

What do you think about the above quote?

CrazyLoveWe’re flying through Francis Chan’s Crazy Love in our Tuesday morning men’s study here at Legacy. Chapter four, Profile of the Lukewarm, begins with this quote and then outlines, with extensive use of the Scriptures, a portrait of a Christ-follower who’s not all in, a Christian who holds back, a disciple who hasn’t totally surrendered to our Lord:

Lukewarm people say they love Jesus, and he is, indeed, a part of their lives. But only a part. They give him a section of their time, their money, and their thoughts, but he isn’t allowed to control their lives.

Lukewarm people give money to charity and to church as long as it doesn’t impinge on their standard of living. If they have a little extra and it is easy and safe to give, they do so. After all, God loves a cheerful giver, right?

Lukewarm people don’t really want to be saved from their sin; they want only to be saved from the penalty of their sin. They don’t genuinely hate sin and aren’t truly sorry for it; they’re merely sorry because God is going to punish them. Lukewarm people don’t really believe that this new life Jesus offers is better than the old sinful one.

Lukewarm people love others but do not seek to love others as much as they love themselves. Their love of others is typically focused on those who love them in return, like family, friends, and other people they know and connect with. There is little love left over for those who cannot love them back, much less for those who intentionally slight them, whose kids are better athletes than theirs, or with whom conversations are awkward or uncomfortable. Their love is highly conditional and very selective, and generally comes with strings attached.

Lukewarm people will serve God and others, but there are limits to how far they will go or how much time, money, and energy they are willing to give.

Lukewarm people feel secure because they attend church, made a profession of faith at age twelve, were baptized, come from a Christian family, vote Republican, or live in America. Just as the prophets in the Old Testament warned Israel that they were not safe just because they lived in the land of Israel, so we are not safe just because we wear the label Christian or because some people persist in calling us a “Christian nation.”

Whoa. These are strong words, huh?

Chan says in this same chapter that if you really, really want to live out a full New Testament Christianity, the American church is a difficult place to fit in. Is that true?

How does my life, how does my church, measure up to David who refused to “sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing?” How do I compare with the widow that Jesus observed giving all that she had to live on out of her poverty, compared to the rich who gave out of their wealth? How well do I follow my Lord’s directives to deny myself, take up my cross, and really follow him? Do I, like Paul, truly desire to share in Christ’s sufferings? Do I really consider others better than myself? Do I genuinely see the needs of others as more important than my own needs?

My Savior came, not to be served, but to serve and to give his life.

What about me? Have I totally and completely surrendered to Christ? Or am I holding something back? Seriously.

More on this tomorrow. What do you think?

By the way, the quote is taken from an article in Forum magazine written by Frederic D. Huntington. In 1890.




  1. NRHJohn

    I completely agree that our American churches lend themselves to passive christianity. I did not capitalize christianity because I did not use it as a form of Christ, but rather the commercial hollow version satan wants us to live. We are currently in a ever warming stew pot playing the part of the frog enjoying the warmth until we end up boiled in our own complacency living in our sin.

    I struggle to find a way to pry my hands open from the grip I keep on Gods gifts, to remove the blinders my prosperity places on my ability to see the needs of others around me. Is it possible that without overt oppression many of us will never make a decision to go “all in” with our walk with Christ? Like the Frog will we just keep waiting for that day we have to decide and end up dying never having truly lived for Christ?

    We must try and shake off the world, it is far too heavy an influence on us currently. I was reading James yesterday and was again reminded “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” James 1:27 ESV Doesn’t sound an awful lot like the religion I practice yet, but I am intent on getting there.

    I pray our church, and those around us, can shake off our country club environment; confess without fear our sins to each other, lift each other up and carry when needed back to the walk Christ intended for each of us. Refusing to tear down with words or deeds those around us, but rather looking to help someone else back to their feet when they have stumbled or are in need of prayer.

    I know I am constantly pummeled with the distractions of the world, I (we) need help from each other to draw our eyes back to Christ and focus on his path, it is not toward bigger better whatevers here on earth, but to helping others here and keeping ourselves “unstained from the world” until we are with him there in the forever “Bigger and Better”.

  2. Allan

    I wonder sometimes if the freedoms and liberties and wealth and health we enjoy in America are really great blessings or terrible curses. I would never, ever pray for God to allow us to be persecuted or oppressed for our faith. But it’s an undeniable fact that the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Kingdom. If we didn’t have it so easy, we’d be more dependent on our God and more mindful of one another. We’d be more like our Christ.

  3. Rob's Dad

    We never go all in unless we are looking disaster square in the face – let me re-phrase that, I didn’t go all in until I was facing disaster.

    The freedoms,liberties etc are great blessings. We tend to underappreciate them as we move more and more into Idiocracy.

  4. Another Thought

    Maybe our freedoms, liberties, health and wealth are not curses but actually another example of the blessings and opportunities that God gives us to serve that we fail to take advantage of in ways that He would want us to. The curse would be ours for not utilizing all the privileges in serving Him.

    Free to speak of Him wherever we go, free to help others with service and love, blessed to live longer in His Service here on earth. When will recognize that all we have is God’s to begin with and when we fail to use what he has has given us in any form (freedoms, liberties, health and wealth) we have let Him down.

    I am thankful and yes, blessed, to live with all of He has given me. The question is, “What am I going to do with it for Him?”.

    Our prayer should be to take advantage of this opportunity.

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