The month of January always makes me reflect back on past years and experiences. Maybe it is the new year and the new start or maybe it is break in life after the rush of the holidays, but either way I often find myself with more down time to reflect. The threat of snow one weekend last January reminded me of a youth ski retreat I went on while in high school and in which the theme was “Blow Chunks” (1990s youth ministry at its finest) taken from the verse, “But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!” (Revelation 3:16).
When I think about this verse and how we viewed it, it makes me uncomfortable. I am uncomfortable because there was this element left to individual interpretation on being good enough. “Am I lukewarm? Could I be more on fire for God? Could I be doing more for God?” Most of my life I have felt that I needed to DO more, BE more, never fully good enough or measuring up in any area. I was not smart enough, not pretty enough, not kind enough, not thoughtful enough, I didn’t serve enough, didn’t share Jesus enough, was not joyful enough… the list could go on and on. The verse above was just a reminder to me that there was more to obtain and more for me to do.
I now realize that we were not putting the verse into the proper context and for sure we were not looking at it through the finished work of the cross. It is really not about my zeal for Jesus and whether or not I am “on fire” enough. It really is about the mixture of law and grace. Mixing the two extremes. Striving to measure up when He is already perfectly pleased because He is perfectly pleased with the sacrifice that Jesus made! He, who knew no sin, became MY sin so that I AM THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD (2 Cor 5:21). The old covenant, the law, was between God and the people and the people said they could do it all on their own…perfection…on their own!?!? The new covenant is a covenant cut between a Father and a Son and I am just the benefactor. The Father is perfectly pleased with me not because of what I do/will do/have done but because He is perfectly pleased with Jesus and His sacrifice on my behalf. I can either strive to obtain perfection on my own, apart from God (cold) or I can take Jesus up on His offer to trade my sin for His righteousness (hot). I cannot be both…I cannot continue to say “Yes Jesus! I am yours!” and then turn around and live like His sacrifice was not perfect and that I need to “add” to it by my striving attempts to measure up. That is being lukewarm!
So, since we are IN CHRIST JESUS (Colossians 3:3) and Christ is IN US (the Holy Spirit), we are SEATED (a position of rest…not working or striving) with Christ at the right hand of God (Colossians 3:1). Now we cease from our striving because the bar of perfection has been met on our behalf and we rest in Jesus. It is FINISHED He said on the cross because He has done the work. He worked and now we rest! That is the great exchange and the GOOD NEWS!! Amen! Amen! Amen! We have the freedom to work, not because we need to make our Father pleased, but because we know He is pleased and we want to effortlessly share that freedom with others! The old mindset of not being enough is gone. Jesus is enough! His work on the cross was complete. I rest and partake in His righteousness. I no longer operate from a position of demands that can never be met; I operate out of Jesus’ abundance of supply. How beautiful is His love story for us?