15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 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. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 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. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” (Rev. 3:15-22, ESV)
I hate to admit that in the not-distant-enough past I realized my spiritual condition had drifted into a state of lukewarm complacency, functioning as something more like a checklist of duties than a relationship with my Savior. Unknowingly, I was measuring myself by checking off items from my personal list of things that make you a “good Christian.” Went to church? Check. Read my Bible today? Check. Said my prayers? Check. Of course, there was also a list of all the bad things that I didn’t do. Didn’t do this…check, or that…check. That list, however, was certain not to be very specific or far-reaching. On the surface, living with a checklist of goals such as this can work wonders for one’s pride. It’s not too difficult to become a regular “legend in your own mind.” Once you’ve removed God’s standard and replaced it with your own, it doesn’t seem all that hard to be a “good Christian.” The problem is, there are no “good” Christians (Romans 3:10).
But then it comes. A trickle of uneasiness that seeps in. A feeling of emptiness. A feeling that something is missing. “Maybe my list is incomplete,” I thought. I spent some time trying to figure out what I was doing wrong…or not doing at all. Trouble being, it’s not about what I am doing. That’s not how any of this works, the commercial says.
In the days following this realization I searched for that lost piece, all the while maintaining my checklist….and blindly not understanding the root of my troubles. During this time, I met a few people who were so on fire for God that His love simply couldn’t be contained within them. I remember a discussion in the car one evening with Kip after meeting one of these individuals. I asked Kip, “Is he always that like that? Or was it just because he knew that we were fellow believers?” Kip questioned for clarification. I replied, “You know. The entire evening he only talked about what God was doing in his life now, and testifying to what God had already done. Is he genuine, or just playing to an audience?” I must admit that I was a little taken back because this was not a church event, but rather a museum fundraiser. Kip assured me, “I have no reason to doubt his authenticity. I’ve spent a fair amount of time with him, and he’s pretty consistent.” Don’t get the wrong idea. Throughout the entire evening this man was so humble and his entire testimony never had the focus on himself, but on the Greatness of God. I remember looking out the car window at the stars that evening thinking, “What am I missing on my list? What is that guy doing that I’m not? What do I need to do?” I spent the next few weeks replaying that evening in my head trying to find the missing piece. I finally realized a major difference: WILLINGNESS. That man was in touch with God, willing to listen and do whatever asked, and to remain humble as he did. He was relating to Christ.
His willingness showed me that not only was I measuring myself incorrectly, but I was using the wrong scale! Being a “good Christian” is not about religious checklists, but a relationship with Christ. There are no “second class” Christians…because there are no first class Christians. We’re either in tune with God, listening to Him, loving Him, resting our joy and peace in Him…or we’re not. I needed to be willing to open the door and let Christ come in with the realization that doing so would require action on my part – but not on my terms. I don’t get to make the list. I just need to follow the call whenever and wherever it leads. Our portion of the relationship with God is not performance-based, because we can’t reach the objective. He’s already done that for us. Our directives are based on our willingness to be obedient. If I truly wanted a relationship with Christ, then I must be willing to listen to His calling, and follow wherever He leads – whether it’s on a list of my own device or not.
I think the picture above is a good representation of our relationship with Jesus. I took this picture a few years ago at a castle on the Isle of Skye, and if you look closely you will notice that the outside door handle is missing. That door could only be opened from the inside. Christ will not force himself in, but will merely knock. We must open the door from the inside, and welcome Him in to fill the room. FILL…..THE ROOM. He’s not just asking for closet space in our spiritual household. We can’t let Him in and expect to keep on drifting wherever whimsy takes us, pushing our own agenda. We are his servants. Bought with a price (1 Cor. 7:22).
I would love to report that since that epiphany that I am a completely rehabilitated Christian, that I’m not prone to old habits. That I no longer judge my walk against a checklist or fellow believers’ walks, but that is not always the case. I still catch myself resorting back to my old familiar standards; however, once I realize what I am doing I am reminded to stop and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to me what He would have me do – whether that’s as simple as a kind deed or thought….or selling my things and making an international move. I have to be open to whatever He is leading me toward, because that’s what successful followers of Christ do. They follow.