The following post was taken from the CCOB Newsletter, Volume 2018, Issue #6.
We must loathe lukewarm people. This message is found throughout scripture. Those who are violent are better off, even if initially they do evil. We cannot expect anything from souls who are slumbering; from those who do good – or think they do good – by abstaining from evil. A heart that is on fire, even if it bewilders us at times, is equipped to serve. God freely chooses his saints from among the great sinners, but never from among those who are lukewarm – from those who do not risk anything.
–Daniel-Rops (French Roman Catholic writer and historian) “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the origin of God’s creation:
“I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth. For you say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.’ You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich; and white robes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen; and salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. I reprove and discipline those whom I love. Be earnest, therefore, and repent. Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me. To the one who conquers I will give a place with me on my throne, just as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.” -Revelation 3:14-22 (NRSV)
Moses became enraged and killed an Egyptian who was abusing one of the Hebrew people. David committed adultery and had the husband of the woman murdered. Ruth lay all night at the feet of a drunken man whom she would later marry. Matthew (aka Levi) bilked fees for personal gain while collecting taxes for the Roman government. Paul emphatically persecuted followers of Jesus.
It was Moses, not the person sitting on the sidelines hoping for freedom, who led the Hebrew people away from Egyptian bondage. It was David, not his well-behaved brothers, who became a king and known as one who yearned after the heart of God. It was Ruth, not her sister-in-law, who became a prominent figure in the lineage of Jesus. It was Matthew, not the law abiding taxpayer, who became one of Jesus’ faithful disciples. It was Paul not the comfortable religious leaders of the day, who encouraged fledgling churches in the 1st century CE to continue as faithful followers of Jesus.
How easy it is to discount for good works the rowdy, rambunctious types who challenge conventional behavioral patterns. Yet as Daniel-Rop intones, it is the enthusiasm regardless of intent that is important to take into account. Even John the Revelator agrees. It is best to be hot or cold, enthusiastic rather than lukewarm.
To be lukewarm includes a certain aspect of apathy; whereas the opposite portrays a sense of wonder and drive. If wonder and drive are present, then the possibility exists to channel that energy in helpful and healthy ways. And as history suggests, even the worst or most unconventional enthusiasm has been transitioned/ transformed to bring about much good.
Sometimes the behavior or actions of children challenge our conventional understandings of how we think they should act. What if instead of wondering how we can help them conform we envision what they might do with that enthusiasm down the road? Picture them as mayor, or coach, or actor, or super parent, or world class extreme sports star, or Indy race car driver, or the one who discovers a cure for cancer, or the first space explorer to step foot on Mars, or a beloved pastor, or gracious greeter, or hospital host. It is our imagining in these ways that can help channel their enthusiasm to be used in many good ways. And remember, it is not the lukewarm but the enthusiastic who God chooses for good purposes.