By: Emily Messiter
Can I be honest with you?
I’m writing this post because I don’t have it all together, and I need this message as much as anyone else. I’m a few weeks removed from a fruitful Lent and an incredible mission trip. I was on fire about living boldly for the Lord, but I have found that my life is looking more like a mid-Lent burnout than a mid-Easter joy.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the early Church, those first revolutionaries who, despite constant ridicule, trial, and persecution, remained faithful to the building of the Kingdom. Sometimes I mistakenly imagine that once Pentecost hit, the Apostles were constantly on the top of their game, and each Christian added to the Church magically caught fire and never looked back. But they were human, too. And we know from Scripture that the early Church was not immune to temptation or weakness: take Revelation’s account of the church in Laodicea as proof. Somewhere along the way, the fire simmered down as this group succumbed to a dangerous lukewarmness that left them pursuing lives that mirrored the wealthy Roman elite rather than the One they knew to be their Savior.
This strikes a chord in my life. While I have been blessed to witness the life-changing love of Jesus, I find myself frequently living a lukewarm existence. I do all the right things – go to Church, have a cutesy prayer time with my journal and coffee, even talk about my faith – but remain unconverted at my core. A revolution cannot survive the danger of lukewarmness, so I’ve been thinking about what made the faithful Christians different from the church at Laodicia. How did they manage to remain disciples?
I think the disciples lived in the gift of remembrance. Did every day feature an earth-shaking experience like Pentecost? Probably not. But their openness to the Holy Spirit reminded them of that blessed day and continued to fuel them on their journeys.
How do we embrace the gift of remembrance? Living in the information age, we’re completely overloaded with data. I’m always just a few clicks away from stumbling upon my cousin’s friend’s neighbor’s daughter’s engagement photos or taking a quiz because I HAVE to find out what kind of ice cream flavor I am. With so much useless info flooding my mind, I’m recognizing that it’s crucial to block out small times of silence in my day to reflect on where I noticed Jesus’s love in the past twenty-four hours. In times of greater difficulty and suffering, I know I need to take more time to recall experiences when his love was particularly concrete. When I remember that, before anything else, Jesus is my first love who constantly desires to share his life with me, I share in the zeal of Peter and John and it becomes almost impossible not to reflect on and share about his movements in my life and in the world around me.
The disciples believed that every person is called to live in the power of the name of Jesus. Imagine yourself as one of those people, who, after having followed in the footsteps of the men who lived with Jesus for three years, is suddenly separated from that tangible link to Christ. But, armed with the conviction that Jesus lived in them and wanted to work through them, they continued to boldly preach his name.
Do you find yourself making excuses for not living your life to the full for the Lord? Too young, too old, too shy, too exuberant, too inarticulate, too chill, too [fill in the blank]? Remember that the Father has chosen you to be alive for such a time as this. The Master Artist has intentionally crafted you – your personality, temperament, hopes, and dreams – to reveal some truth about himself to the people you meet every day. Practice praying the Name of Jesus as soon as you wake up in the morning as a way to center your day around your most true identity as the beloved of God and to surrender every encounter of the day to him.
The disciples recognized that the message of salvation is for everyone. As the Church began to reach even the non-Jews, Peter reported about a few particular Gentiles: “The Spirit told me to accompany them without discriminating.” (Acts 11:12) If we’re ever lukewarm, it’s time to be reconvicted of the amazing truth that we have the best news ever: that God, who is Love, desires an eternal relationship with each one of us. Do you have a family member or friend that you have written off, thinking that they just won’t be into the Faith? Ask Jesus who this person in your life is, and pray for opportunities to be the light to him or her. Check out Rin Jandernoa’s blog post “Everyone Needs Jesus” for wisdom on this topic!
At the end of the day, any revolution cannot withstand the threat of lukewarmness by sheer willpower or emotion. Its members will lose stamina, or catch wind of a new movement, or envision a better establishment. Thankfully, we’re not following an emotion, a movement, or an establishment – we’re following a Person who revolutionized what it means to love and to be loved. He made us to desire more than a lukewarm, mediocre existence, and He wants to fulfill our deepest longings to live meaningful, abundant lives. As we continue to celebrate his Resurrection, let’s ask Jesus for greater faithfulness in living as his disciples who are on fire with the truth of who He is and the mission He has given us to make his love visible in whatever we do in our everyday lives.