A spider and a centipede are having tea. The centipede gets up and offers to go buy snacks. He goes out the door and hours pass. The spider is so hungry, wondering what happened, and opens the door, only to find the centipede sitting on the doormat, still putting on his shoes.
Sometimes I am that centipede. It takes me F.O.R.E.V.E.R. to tie my hundred shoes, to get going…in a spiritual sense, I mean. In real world activities, I am the Energizer Bunny.
Francis Chan’s “New York Times” best seller, Crazy Love, makes me wonder if I am taking my own sweet time in becoming what God desires for me, even after 43 years of being a Christian. Chan writes much about “lukewarm Christians” (in other words, not Christians at all). They love God for what He can do for them (like eternity in Heaven) and not for who He is.
The test is simple, using the question John Piper wrote in God In the Gospel: “If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?” Spend some time before answering.
The author is concerned about the unfaithfulness of Christians. Referring to the question “Can I go to heaven without truly and faithfully loving Jesus?”, Chan’s response comes as no surprise. “I don’t see anywhere in Scripture how the answer to that question could be yes.”
We know that Jesus’ sacrifice to die on the cross for our sins benefits us eternally, but have we ever considered the emotional pain well before the crucifixion, like how it had to grieve God to say farewell to His son and send him to earth to live with sinners who would reject him, abandon him, deny him and kill him? (If you are a parent, put yourself in God’s shoes.) Leading up to that Heavenly good-bye, I wonder if the angels were huddled in panic. Were there lingering hugs and tears? Surely Jesus knew what was ahead, that he would be grieved, tempted, exhausted, frustrated and would agonize over his impending death. Still, he volunteered to come, to offer to die in our place.
How much love he has for you and me, that he made that choice!
Jesus wasn’t finished. He returned to Heaven but did not leave us without help: the Holy Spirit. Jesus told His followers and therefore us, “… it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go the Helper will not come …” (John 16:7). Get that? Better than Jesus remaining with the disciples is that we can be gifted with his Spirit. And what a gift he is! In John 14, we learn much about what we Christians have living inside of us, thank you, Jesus, waiting to be used. A helper. A comforter. A teacher. A guide. A prophet. A convicter. An intercessor.
Christians, we have been given everything we need to faithfully follow Jesus. It is time we lace up our spiritual shoes and get moving. Luke 10:2 reminds us of Jesus’ words, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;…”
Last week, I wrote about the horrific death of Jacque, a friend of close friends, but one with whom I had spent time on several occasions when we talked about politics, charities in Mazatlán, the increasing traffic and our families. I just never got around to putting on the Jesus shoe to tell her what mattered most.
I have to wonder, Would Chan use that as a definition of “lukewarm”?