Toxic Mediocrity

salmonellaHave you ever gotten a bad case of food poisoning? I have, and it’s one of the most horrible experiences I can remember! A seemingly harmless hamburger for lunch, that didn’t get quite good and done in the middle, woke me up in the middle of the night vomiting, trembling, in pain, and utter agony! I didn’t even notice that pink middle at first…I was eating lunch with my friends and not looking at the food. By the time I realized the hamburger wasn’t fully cooked, I’d already swallowed a bite or two. Lukewarm temperatures are the breeding ground for disease, viruses, and bacteria to thrive and take over. Nothing will set your mind right like sitting in that nasty ER bathroom floor (grateful for the cold tile against your skin regardless of its unsanitary condition), hugging the toilet, throwing up hard and loud, and crying like a little girl!  I didn’t think that I.V. was ever going to speed that medicine into my veins fast enough to take away the horrible, invasive sickness I felt.  It was forever before I could stomach another burger; and years later, I still make sure it’s DONE in the middle!

No wonder the Lord said He would rather we be either hot or cold! In Revelation, He said if we were lukewarm, He’d spew us out of His mouth. Oh yes, I know all about spewing from a belly full of meat that never got hot enough to kill the germs. When we’re lukewarm spiritually, we create a hospitable place for wickedness to breed and multiply, hidden beneath the darkness of a false sense of security. Lukewarm is that place where conviction is drowned out by comfort. We feel like, although we are not where we should be, we are “better off” than we could be. At least when we are cold, we know we are in trouble and need a Savior. Lukewarm says, “I’m not so bad.” Lukewarm can even cause us to feel pretty smug, comparing ourselves to those we perceive to be worse off than ourselves. Remember the Pharisee Jesus talked about, who stood in the temple and thanked God that he was not like “that sorry tax collector over there,” rattling off all the good things he was doing to “deserve” God’s favor. Jesus said that the tax collector, who beat on his chest and begged forgiveness for his sins, walked away justified, while the religious guy just wallowed in his self-righteousness, unaware that his own spiritual state was in grave peril.

Just as we cannot wipe out a case of food poisoning by merely relieving the nausea and other symptoms, it takes some real strong medicine to get us back on track when we are spiritually toxic.  A feel-good church service may take our mind off our discomfort, but receiving the Word along with self-examination, repentance, and moving out of that stagnant place…herein is the antibiotic which will knock the infection out of our system.  A lukewarm condition doesn’t mean you and I are bad people…but left there, it could ultimately destroy us.  Once we give in totally to the lull of deception, we no longer see our need to purge this disease from our spirit!  I don’t want to be fooled, do you?  I want to be on the hot side, where there’s no breeding ground for the carnal to taint my relationship with God.

Lord, I pray for myself and those reading this, that we will not allow ourselves to be deceived! We cannot look at ourselves and gauge our closeness to You based on what we have done, or how blessed we seem to be…because Your grace isn’t to be bartered for with the currency of our meager works. If it’s OUR righteousness and not YOURS, it’s as filthy rags. Help us to remain humble, to remain watchful, and to remain obedient. For Heaven’s sake, help us not to become comfortable in living a sloppy, lazy Christian walk! Help us not to compare ourselves to others and fall into the trap of false intimacy with You. Help us not to see the splinter in our neighbor’s eye while we have a huge beam in our own. Help us not to be hypocrites and religious phonies! We already know we don’t want to be cold, but please, create an equally if not greater sense of discomfort at the thought of settling for lukewarm! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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