When I try to explain this chapter to people, I always reference those awful "redneck" jokes that were so popular about 10 years ago. They always start out the same: You know you're a redneck if... Chan presents us with 18 scenarios that can help us to better understand what it means to be lukewarm. Here's the directive he places before us in this chapter:
"Would you describe yourself as totally in love with Jesus Christ? Or do the words halfhearted, lukewarm, and partially committed fit better? The Bible says to test ourselves, so in the next few pages, I am going to offer you a description of what halfhearted, distracted, partially committed, lukewarm people can look like. As you read these examples, I encourage you to take a searching, honest look at your life. Not who you want to be one of these days, but who you are now and how you are living today." p.68
So, with that, here's the first description:
"LUKEWARM PEOPLE attend church fairly regularly. It is what is expected of them, what they believe "good Christians" do, so they go." p. 68
Chan goes on to reference Isaiah 29:13, which reads: The Lord says: "These people come near to me with their mouths and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men."
For me, I can't help but think about my childhood. You see, I grew up in the church. My mother took me every Sunday morning, as well as every Sunday and Wednesday night. She taught Sunday school. She played the piano. She dressed the part very well. But, my father never went to church. I knew my dad believed in God. He had this HUGE Bible by the side of his bed that he read constantly. He talked about God. He just didn't "do" church. It wasn't until I was 9-years-old that I learned the reason why. I was in tears one morning because my mother was making me wear a dress. I was a Tomboy... I still am. The last thing I wanted to do was wear a dress, mostly because it meant that I couldn't play kickball with the boys after church. Balling my eyes out, I ran to my father begging to stay home with him. To this day, I remember the exact words he said to my mother: God doesn't care what she wears... so why should you? What followed was a diatribe from my mother about appearances, and setting a good example. I remember my father giving this dismissive laugh, telling my mother that being a Christian had nothing to do with what you wear or how many times a week you go to a building. If he wanted to spend time with God, all he had to do was open up his Bible and read. He walked away smirking, throwing one last insult to my mother: You can pretend to be rich, too... but that doesn't make you rich.
Right now, I'm working on a curriculum for a class that I'll be facilitating at my church over the summer. Part of it's about claiming our identity as Christians... what it really means to be a follower of Christ. I'm reading through the Epistles. I borrowed several commentaries from my pastor. And as I pour myself over all of it, I'm finding a plethora of information... directives, examples... about who we are a Christians and what is expected of us... and absolutely none of it has anything to do with going to church "fairly regularly." Going to church once a week doesn't make us a Christian. And going twice a week doesn't make us a better Christian. Our faith, the abundance and depth, is not measured in attendance or appearance. It is measured by our heart...and that's a matter between you and God... not the church nor the people in it.
So, today's assignment is this: Figure out how much time you spend "attending church." We'll just stick to the time you spend (presumably) on Sunday morning. Whether it's one hour or three, I want you to spend AT LEAST that much time during the next few days with God... just you and Him. (If you don't go to church regularly, try to spend about an hour with Him.) You can read the Bible. You can spend time in prayer. You can do a combination of both. If you can't carve out that much time in one sitting, then divide it up into two or three sittings... BUT NOT MORE THAN THAT! What's expected of us isn't necessarily that we spend time in church...it's that we spend time with God.