Camilla wrote a very interesting post over at her blog today. I started writing a comment, but found it getting very long, so here I am. I hope this whole post makes sense. There are several random thoughts I have that I will try to convey in an understandable way.
While I agree with most of what Camilla is saying, there are a couple of things that I believe need some further consideration. Lukewarm and sinful are not synonymous. If that were the case then we would all be lukewarm, because we all sin. But we can be sinful beings and hot, cold or lukewarm. Sin does not determine in which camp we fall.
Revelation talks of seven different kinds of churches , not all are lukewarm. Some are hot, some are cold, some have lost their first love,etc. I believe to say that all churches are lukewarm when John writes about 7 different types of churches is limiting the scope of the Scriptures and God Almighty. Why would he write about 7, if all churches were lukewarm?
Today, many churches are deceived, some are hot, some are cold, some have lost their first love, etc. Camilla’s church’s VBS skit shows an excellent example of putting the method above the message–and deception. But, I don’t believe this is the way to determine if a church is hot, cold, or lukewarm.
Think about David, he was a man "after God’s own heart", however, he sinned with Bathsheba. He also killed "10.000’s" and did not keep the hearts of his children. I find it hard to believe that a man "after God’s own heart" could be lukewarm. The sin he committed makes him human, and imperfect, but not necessarily lukewarm. I sin, I sin big time! I am ashamed of many of my sins. I try to hide them. I try to let the Spirit work, but my humanness steps in and I fail many times. Sin is a symptom of being human. But that does not make me lukewarm. It just makes me human. But I am pressing on for the prize.
There has never been a perfect church, look at the letters Paul wrote– there’s not one that says "you’re doing a great job and have it all together" Again, some were more together than others, but none had it all. The reason is in Genesis. Sin entered the world through Adam and since that time only Jesus has been perfect, no perfect people, no perfect churches. I don’t believe this makes our churches lukewarm–it makes them imperfect. Same as Revelation, some are hot, some are cold, some are lukewarm, some have lost their first love, etc.
There is a way for a church to be hot and imperfect. 6000 years ago, and today. Many churches are doing great things, preaching the Gospel truth and doing the work of God. What about churches in other countries? Yes, there are some that have lost their first love, but there are others that are being persecuted and people even die for their faith– these are lukewarm??
Personally, I think many churches in America are lukewarm, we take things for granted people in other countries don’t have. For instance, we just got a letter from the missionaries that were fosterparents to Sweet Cheeks, they were thankful for donations that had provided a couple of motorcycles for their local pastors so they wouldn’t have to travel by foot for several hours a day to get to their destination. How many of us complain if we drive over 15 minutes to get to church on Sunday morning? How many of us will settle for a church that is not teaching the Gospel, because it’s convenient? I don’t think that necessarily makes all churches in America lukewarm. Many are preaching the Word, not a watered down version of the Word. Many are preaching that hell still exists and that if you don’t believe in the one true and living God, you will spend eternity in that same hell. And many pews are filled with people just putting in their time and doing what they please the other 6 days and 22 hours of the week.
I think it’s nearly impossible to profile the universal church, one needs to look at the individuals involved in the local congregations,the leadership of said churches, and the fruit. Thank God that I don’t have to decide what churches are hot, cold, or lukewarm. Jehovah God can look at the heart objectively and He will be the Just and True Judge.