Most Christians have heard the term “lukewarm Christian” and understand its negative connotation. In fact, a lukewarm Christian can have an interest in God, such as going to church or reading the Bible and may look spiritual outwardly, but he does not allow God to have full access to every area of his life. In many instances, Christians are blind and indifferent to God and His ways. The Bible says, “But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. So I advise you to buy gold from me–gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich” (Revelation 3:16-18). God rebuked this group of Christians because they claimed to be doing well, but in God’s sight, they were missing the mark. God went on to explain that if they wanted true riches, they needed to learn what was valuable to His heart and not assume they knew.
I had a similar experience 12 years ago. I grew up in church. I learned about God, His ways and the manner in which His followers were supposed to behave. I thought I was a mature Christian and that others were supposed to look up to me because of my good moral behavior. If someone asked if I was surrendering my life to God fully, I would have given an emphatic, “yes!” Then one day, my entire world flipped upside down. I was attending a major public university and joined a Christian group on campus. I observed people in this group had a real zeal for God that I was lacking and I wanted what they had. So, I prayed to God and asked Him if He would help me know Him and understand His ways. That same night, I woke up and had nagging thoughts of doubt plaguing my mind about whether God existed or if Christianity was true. Up until this point I had never questioned my faith, but for some reason, I could not shake these thoughts. They grew worse and consumed my every thought. I went into a depression and tried to sleep this problem away, but it would not leave. I cried out to God to speak to me, telling Him that I would do anything He asked me to do. Everything I thought would make me happy could not give me the peace of mind to confidently move forward in life. In absolute humility, I cried out to God for help and for the first time, I recognized His still small voice on the inside of me. He said, “Cory, the battle you are going through belongs to Me. I love you. You are My child.”
Before this pivotal moment, my relationship with God consisted of me doing all the talking. I was so busy trying to get God to approve of my ideas that I failed to realize that the Creator of the universe had a plan and wanted to communicate it to me.
Several weeks later, God gently told me that I had finally given Him the throne of my life. This meant that after 14 years of trying to live the Christian life my own way, I surrendered to His leading. God was not interested in being a part of my life, but He wanted to be the Lord of my life with complete control of the direction of it. God had to take me through a fiery trial to bring the impurities in my heart to the surface so He could deal with them. The Bible says, “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and He prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more” (John 15:1-2). In order for me to experience God’s best, I had to allow God to remove everything that hindered my relationship with Him. This was painful, but as I took steps of obedience to God, I began to experience real joy, peace and true fulfillment.
So, can a lukewarm person be considered a Christian? Yes, but he will never experience all the good things that God has for him unless he comes to a place of surrender. As I learned to lean on and trust in God, my life began to bear good fruit that was pleasing to Him. I had found true riches– gold that had been refined in the fire. Surrender is a daily decision to put God first. Will you put Him first?
Cory Nickols is a regular speaker and the missions director at Envision Life Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Check out Cory’s blog at [email protected]. For speaking engagements or more information on Cory, you can contact him at [email protected].