"LUKEWARM PEOPLE tend to choose what is popular over what is right when they are in conflict. They desire to fit in both at church and outside of church; they care more about what people think of their actions (like church attendance and giving) than what God thinks of their hearts and lives." p. 69
I've read this description over and over, and for me, I feel like it's addressing two separate issues: the conflict of "fitting in" at church and outside of church, as well as the issue of our motives... Are our actions the result of pleasing man or pleasing God? I guess the two can go hand-in-hand, but it just seems that each issue can become totally consuming, in-and-of itself. As far as the first, the answer, on paper, is easy... just stop trying to fit in...PERIOD! As I've been preparing for the study I'm about to lead at church, it's never been more apparent to me that, as Christians, WE ARE SET APART! There's an inevitable conflict that exists if we try to straddle the fence of popular perception. Last weekend, I went to a going away party for a couple that was in our small group a year ago. There was a mixture of people there... some from church, but most weren't. I tried, several times, to strike up conversations with some of the women that I didn't know, but it became painfully apparent that I didn't fit in there. In fact, I spent most of my time playing frisbee with a 5-year-old. For the first time, in my life, I was socially knocked off kilter. I can get along with ANYONE! But, last Saturday, I was suffocating, paralyzed... I had to escape. The whole incident put me in a funk for the rest of the night, but as I had time to reflect on the situation, I realized this: My desire to "fit in" with the outside world has dissipated... which I think is a good thing. HOWEVER, I strongly feel that with this realization comes an increasingly high probability that we could start traveling down a road that repels others from our faith. Scripture says over and over that, as Christians, we are righteous... but there is a difference from being righteous in Christ and being self-righteous... to think that we are better, that we have all the answers. And I think this is ONE of the reasons we try so hard to fit into both worlds. We don't want to isolate ourselves. We don't want to become known as "Jesus freaks." We don't want to lose our friends and family because we found Jesus... and, most importantly, we don't want to turn our backs on the people that need Jesus the most.
As for the second... that's between you and God... SERIOUSLY. I'm not going to throw stones here, because I live in a glass house, so to speak! But, I will say this, I think this is an easy trap to fall into. I can only speak from my own experiences, but validation of our faith... from anyone other than God... can be as dangerous, as it is encouraging, probably more dangerous. Last summer, it became painfully apparent to me that I was more focused on the praise of man than the praise of God. I rationalized it as "Stay-At-Home-Mom Syndrome." Being a stay-at-home mom can be a pretty thankless job, with little to no signs of appreciation. Last summer, I realized that my heavy involvement in church activities wasn't the result of my fervor for Christ... it was because people were showing an appreciation for my willingness to serve...pathetic, I know! But, completely true! I was spending more and more time doing "church things" and less and less time with God. So, I put on the brakes. For about four months, I did absolutely nothing but go to church with my family on Sunday mornings and read my Bible... probably the best four months of my life.
Of all the descriptions for being LUKEWARM, I honestly think this is one of the more difficult ones to overcome... because it goes against our very humanistic nature. And for some of us, we won't be able to overcome it on our own... but not to worry. We have God... and He can overcome anything.
I'm attaching one of the articles I wrote for The Lookout last year. Take a moment to read it. A lot of today's entry, inadvertenly, has to do with priorities. What are your priorities? Are you more concerned with fitting in or following Christ? Remember, it doesn't matter what you say... or do... because God knows your heart!