palatable spirituality

Photo by Glen Alan Woods

There is nothing more refreshing than a glass of ice cold water on a hot day, or a cup of steaming hot chocolate on a cold day. But on any day, a tepid beverage is unappetizing. To partake of such a drink while expecting something cold or hot is to invite its immediate expulsion from your mouth. Gross!

Such is the piercing message that God inspired John to write to the church of Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22). Despite earlier written admonishments and encouragements from Paul via his Letter to the church of Colossae, Laodicea had become self-absorbed, seemingly self-sufficient, and unjustifiably self-satisfied.

They boasted in their material affluence and consequent influence.  Spiritual blinders veiled their glaring poverty and shameful nakedness, their proud self-congratulatory attitude with no awareness of their desperate need.

No commendations were in order for this church. None. Only rebuke and a call to repentance. Out of love.

We do well to pay attention to this episode, both corporately as local expressions of ecclesial community and privately as individuals prone to opt for paths of least resistance in our faith journeys.

I tend to be self-absorbed with my own hobbies, interests, problems, and thoughts, too often leading me astray into patterns of sin. Don’t look at me that way. Your sinful patterns may be different, but they are no better.

I tend to take pride in my ingenuity and ability to meet my own needs as well as contributing to helping others to such an extent that I adopt an attitude of self-sufficiency. Of course I pay lip service to trusting Jesus as my source of provision, but it is often only when my back is against the wall that I truly cry out to him for help.

I tend to become self-satisfied, resting on my apparent accomplishments, forgetting that without Jesus’s supreme accomplishment, I am hopelessly lost to sin and it’s consequences.

So, he reminds me to repent and to become hot or cold–tepid no more. He stands at the door knocking, hoping that the church–indeed, that I–will open it and let him in so that we may celebrate in his presence, focused on his person and work, trusting in his all-sufficient power, and resting in the contentment that come from a posture of ongoing worship.

He calls us all out of a tepid spirituality marked by unfaithfulness into a palatable spirituality (to his taste, not ours) which refreshingly honors him, trusts him, and finds full contentment in him alone.

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