We live in a culture fascinated with renewal. Just consider how many skin renewal products are on the market and the number of new skin renewal innovations that come out regularly. If you need another example, consider the number of home remodel programs that have gained great interest. Married couples, brothers, and a whole host of people are remodeling (or renewing) homes for sale. We are fascinated by renewal, which is simply the process of something being made new, fresh, or alive. In the previous examples, you will note that the renewal is an external reality, however the renewal Jesus offers is a renewal that starts internally and is a renewal of the heart.
External vs. Internal Reality
Samuel had a hard time understanding this when it came time to pick a new king for the people. He followed the Lord’s command to go to Bethlehem and find a man named Jesse in order to anoint one of his sons. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the people wanted to know if he came in peace or to bring a word of discipline and rebuke.
“When Samuel saw David’s older brother, Eliab, he thought, “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed. But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart”
-1 Samuel 16:6-7
Have you ever made the mistake of assuming what God wants? Or allowing your five senses to be the judge of what God would or wouldn’t want? Samuel, a chosen prophet that had been in conversation with God since he was a young boy looked at external circumstances and attributes. The Lord looks at the heart. How is your relationship with the Lord on a heart level? Are you passionately in love with Him? He is passionately in love with you. Do you know Him better than other people in your life? He wants to be known by you and have intimate fellowship with you. Are you in need of renewal?
The book of Revelation includes letters to seven churches, of which Laodicea was the wealthiest and one that did not receive encouragement. Just like the church in Laodicea, western culture today needs renewal.
“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. “ ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”
This is the wide road of the lukewarm; the road of an indifferent heart that leads to idleness. It is a wide road of self-satisfaction that leads to a hardened heart. Jesus says that if you are lukewarm and casual He will spit you out of His mouth. He is saying because if you are not on fire and passionate about Him, discipline will come in order to bring us back to Him.
The Church in Laodicea was laid back about God. They were not needy, and because they had everything they needed they couldn’t see their need for God. They started to live with a false sense of security. “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing” (vs. 17). This is a trap that many have fallen into and don’t even know it. Do you live your life needing God? Are you on fire or are you lukewarm?
The Kingdom of Heaven
If you get it, you won’t be lukewarm. Wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked does not describe someone that knows they are a child of God. If you have a relationship with Jesus, you will have joy and life, even in bad circumstances. Matthew 13 tells the Parable of the Hidden Treasure. “The Kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Matthew 13:44). The Kingdom of Heaven is more valuable than anything else we can have, and a person must be willing to give up everything to obtain it. Nothing is more precious than the Kingdom of Heaven. Notice in his joy he went. He was overcome with excitement and happiness that he would be given such a valuable gift that he gave up everything else for it.
Does this describe your life? You shouldn’t do anything until you come before God asking Him to set you on fire. If you are lukewarm, what else is there to do? What is more important? Be zealous and repent of the self-satisfaction that is robbing you from intimacy. Confess to Him the hardness of you heart and watch Him create in you a renewed heart. Call upon the Lord and lay your lukewarm living at the feet of the cross and turn from it.
“Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus.”