14“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
This passage has been on my mind a lot lately. One of the most troubling things I see now in our country is apathy.
What is apathy?
- Lack of interest or concern, especially regarding matters of general importance or appeal; indifference.
- Lack of emotion or feeling; impassiveness.
Synonyms: coldness, detachment, disinterest, dispassion, disregard, passiveness, unconcern, stoicism
We just don’t care. That’s a simple way of saying it. We are concentrating on our own family, and our own concerns, our comforts, our life, our children.
The only problem with this is that as the church God calls us to love our neighbor. He calls us to defend the defenseless- to take up their cause. To help the poor, orphan, and widow.
We pay our taxes and decide to let the govt do it- but that’s not what God called us to do. We are not only supposed to fill people’s pocketbooks.
What does the Bible say about money? Love of money is the root of all evil (1 Tim. 6:10). Money can potentially be a dangerous threat to intimacy with God. We need to be sharing Christ with people AND meeting their needs.
Does the govt tell people about Jesus when they pay for their food stamps or Social Security? Do they share about how God can heal us when they go in for their doctor appointments with Medicare and Medicaid?
It is a lazy answer. We don’t want to get our hands dirty- to deal with interacting with people who haven’t bathed, may not have all their teeth, may not speak English well, maybe they don’t know how to read, or maybe they have been addicted to drugs or alcohol. They might not be like us.
But who did Jesus spend his time with? That’s what disturbs me when I read Scripture. I see myself (and the church in the US) more and more as the Pharisees and Sadducees- those who Jesus called white washed tombs. We appear on the outside to be holy and do the things we are supposed to do- but inside our hearts- in our spirits- we are far from the things of God.
Matthew 23:25-39 Jesus is teaching here- the beginning of Matthew 23 is also very applicable to this discussion.
25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
29 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30 And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Go ahead, then, and complete what your ancestors started!
33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35 And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Truly I tell you, all this will come on this generation.
37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
It gets messy when you open yourself up to love people. Especially when you don’t know how they will respond. To give in relationships where you do not expect to get anything in return. We are used to equitable relationships- people who can do things for us if we do things for them.
The truth is- I am discovering this- the getting messy part- all over again. It is easy to forget how hard it is to put yourself out there- to loan money to someone and they don’t pay you back. And then they stop calling you. Suddenly you are no longer their friend- and you are wondering if they ever were your friend or were just waiting to take money from you.
Sometimes we look foolish to others- they make judgments about whether or not we should have helped someone. But what is more important?
It’s hard. But no matter how many times we help, or what the outcome is, God calls us to continue. To learn to give, not expecting anything in return and to share the gospel.
So I pray that this week we will be open to opportunities to reach out to the “least of these.” (Mat. 25:40,45) And that we would step out in faith and serve- trusting God with the outcome.