The God of Extremes – No Middle Ground
I was told by my son Mark that I should watch the film “Moneyball” starring Brad Pitt as Billy Beane, and let him know what I thought. Actually I thought it was an intriguing film, and particularly one thing that Billy Beane said grabbed me strong:
“I HATE LOSING EVEN MORE THAN I
LOVE (WANT) WINNING.”
That statement will not let me go as I have pondered it not only, but I sensed that the Holy Spirit was compelling me to see something in it that Billy Bean never intended. But in all honesty at first thought, my response was, “Come on now Billy Bean, nobody hates losing more than he loves winning.” I mean, what kind of out-of-balance and skewed thinking is that, for after all, every honest thinker would say:
“I LOVE WINNING EVEN MORE THAN I HATE LOSING.”
But not so fast! I was checked in my criticism by something, or should I say by Someone, who would not let my evaluation and criticism stand so easily. And then I began to hear instruction that somehow trumped what I was thinking, and it was this:
“NO TRUE SPORT’S ENTHUSIAST AND LOYALIST CAN PASSIONATELY
LOVE WINNING WITHOUT FIERCELY HATING LOSING.”
“NO TRUE SPORT’S ENTHUSIAST AND LOYALIST CAN FIERCELY HATE
LOSING WITHOUT PASSIONATELY LOVING WINNING.”
If you are to be effective and productive in sports and for your team, you better have a burning passion and love for winning, as well as a fierce passion and hatred for losing. Oh I know that there are those who would object to this, for they believe we should be HUMBLE WINNERS and GOOD LOSERS (which I agree with totally) but we should not be lovers or haters when it comes to winning and losing. After all, it is only a game! Etc.!
First of all, it is not JUST A GAME! Not for the true athlete or for his coach. To be upfront, a famous coach once said:
“WINNING ISN’T EVERYTHING, IT IS THE ONLY THING.”
Those who see a conflict in all of this most often have never played a real game of sports in their lives, for either they rode the bench, or more than likely they never made it on a team, and most likely never tried out for a team. That is not to their discredit, but the fact is:
“IF YOU PLAY SPORTS AND DO NOT HAVE A PASSIONATE LOVE FOR WINNING,
AND A FIERCE HATRED FOR LOSING, YOU BETTER THEN DEVELOP A LOVE
FOR LOSING AND AN INDIFFERENCE AT BEST FOR WINNING, FOR YOU
WILL CAUSE YOURSELF AND THE TEAM TO HAVE PLENTY OF THE
FORMER AND VERY LITTLE OF THE LATTER.”
LOVING GOD – HATING SATAN
Through the years I have heard church people ask the question, “Is it wrong to hate the Devil?” Or, “May we hate Satan?” Or, “Should we hate the Devil?”
Well then, my dismayed and somewhat irritated response to those who ask about the rightness or wrongness of hating Satan is, “If we may not hate Satan, then how are we supposed to feel about him? Are we then supposed to dislike him, but at the same time have some affection for him? Or are we supposed to love Satan but hate what he does? What and where is the middle ground when it comes to our heads and hearts about ole Lucifer?” What I am really feeling deep down is, “Why would you ever ask such questions?”
I must press hard for this, in that with God, there is never a middle ground like loving a little and hating a little. With God, listen:
“A LITTLE LOVE IS NOT ONE STITCH BETTER THAN NO LOVE AT ALL.”
God is not a GRAY GOD in anything. The Hound of Heaven is not a GRAY-HOUND. He is the extremist God of pitch black and and glistening white. He is not, never has been, and never will be the GOD OF THE IN-BETWEEN RELIGION. Get that straight right at the beginning, and if you can’t be definitive, read on please.
Many people’s religion in this regard reminds me of the present state of my body. It is not a body bulging with the muscles of a bodybuilder, nor is it the emaciated frame of an anorexic. Rather, my body is just a somewhat puffy, pallid thing that you do not want paraded in public – the religion of the in-between.
God makes it all very clear at the very beginning of the Bible, where we read His very severe words to Satan in Genesis 3:15,
“And I will put ENMITY between you and the woman, between your seed
and her seed; He shall bruise (crush) your head, and you
shall bruise him on the heel.”
The word ENMITY means HATRED! No love lost here between the seed of the woman – Christ and His followers, and the seed of the serpent – Antichrist and His followers. You don’t intentionally crush someone’s head that you have affection for. And I guarantee you that ole Lucifer was trying to kill Jesus from the second He was born. NO LOVE LOST HERE! NOT A LICK! Between the seed of the woman and seed of the serpent, the enmity feelings are mutual. This is not a LOVE-LOVE RELATIONSHIP, but is a HATE-HATE RELATIONSHIP between Christ and Satan.
For you see, we serve a God not of NEUTERS and INDECISIVES and COMPROMISES and MIDDLE GROUNDS. For instance, we read in Psalm 97:10,
“Hate evil, you who love the Lord.”
There they are in stark and antithetical emotions. Well then, Satan is the essence of evil, that is, he is evil personified. He doesn’t simply do evil things, nor does he just have an evil side to him, or an evil streak in him. He is the totality of unmixed and undiluted evil. Satan is not just that EVIL DEVIL – which makes evil in his life simply an adjective. No! EVIL IS SATAN AND SATAN IS EVIL – SYNONYMOUS NOUNS. If you will:
“EVIL IS NOT WHAT SATAN HAS OR DOES, EVIL IS WHO HE IS.”
“HATE SATAN FIERCELY YOU WHO [PASSIONATELY] LOVE THE LORD.”
I guess if I were Billy Beane, I would say it this way:
“I HATE THE DEVIL EVEN MORE THAN I LOVE GOD.”
But I am not Billy Beane, so I would put it this way:
“I PASSIONATELY LOVE GOD AND I FIERCELY HATE THE DEVIL.”
What is more, the real point of Genesis 3:15 and Psalm 97:10 is:
“NO ONE CAN TRULY LOVE GOD WITHOUT TRULY HATING SATAN.”
“NO ONE CAN TRULY LOVE SATAN WITHOUT TRULY HATING GOD.”
And if you don’t get that, you had better go outside of your diluted, puffy, pale religion, and come back in all over again into true Christianity.
In short therefore:
“IF YOU DO NOT PASSIONATELY LOVE WINNING AND FIERCELY HATE LOSING,
I DON’T WANT YOU ON MY FOOTBALL TEAM.”
“IF YOU DO NOT PASSIONATELY LOVE JESUS AND FIERCELY HATE SATAN,
I DON’T WANT YOU ON MY EVANGELISTIC TEAM.”
And if you want to put it in a Billy Beaneism:
“I HATE THE DEVIL’S GUTS MORE THAN I LOVE THE LORD’S HEART.”
The Bob Klingenbergism would be:
“I PASSIONATELY LOVE THE LORD’S HEART AND I FIERCELY HATE
THE DEVIL’S GUTS.”
Oh how I love Jesus for Who He is and what He does for sinners, and oh how I hate Satan for who he is and what he does to sinners. Too many stories to tell.
We were in an evangelistic crusade on the island of Aruba. A precious young lady came forward in a big tent for ministry. Satan for months had been appearing in the night to her in the form of a gruesome man, and he threatened to kill her if she did not cut herself with knives. She had been cutting herself and proceeded to show me the deep scars and wounds. I could tell that she was living in terror.
The young woman that night asked Jesus to be her Lord and Savior, and we bound the power of Satan in Jesus name! She was given instruction what to do if Satan showed up again. He did, and now as a child of God she took authority over him, and after calling his bluff and binding him in Jesus name, he left. She reported that victory the next night in the crusade.
And so the battle of the ages continues, and those who belong to Christ are overcomers, and those do not belong to Jesus are being destroyed. They await our help and Christ’s deliverance and victory. We do not have a minute to waste.
It is no mystery why Satan and his seed hate the woman and her seed. We read in I John 3:8,
“The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy
the works of the devil.”
Bindhu in southern Asia was a sorceress in her community, but she was frustrated and discouraged. The deities she had built a shrine for and worshipped so faithfully failed to heal her from severe headaches and chest and back pain. Even the witch doctors she consulted at a high price had given up on her. And the medical treatment she had received from a doctor was of no effect.
Although Bindhu had never doubted her gods before, now she wondered if they were real. A curious thought entered her mind,”What if the two women who came to my village and followed a different God could do something about my sickness?”
Bindhu went to meet the ladies and asked them about their God. The missionaries listened to her sad story and then explained about the love and grace of Christ. They also gave her a copy of God’s Word and encouraged her to read it daily.
Every day they spent time with Bindhu, answering her questions and praying for her healing. And within two months, the Lord graciously healed this woman from all her sickness. With a thankful heart, Bindhu gave up her charms and sorcery and invited Jesus into her heart. Although Bindhu’s husband did not approve of her decision, she still decided to follow Jesus Christ for the rest of her life. And Jesus filled her heart with the most amazing joy and peace. (K.P. Yohannan – Gospel For Asia)
There is not one person in the world who is bound by Satan that Jesus cannot set free. That is why Satan and his seed hate the woman and her seed so fiercely. Greater is He Who is in us than he who is in the world.
LOVING CHRIST – HATING PARENTS
This gets far more extreme, and makes hating the devil a very simple issue indeed.
I want to now give to you a couple of Scriptures that make the neutralists and middle-of-the roaders recoil. The first one is Matthew 10:37 where Jesus says,
“He who LOVES father and mother MORE THAN me is not worthy of Me; and
he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of Me.”
And then Luke 14:26 where Jesus says,
“If anyone comes to me, and does not HATE his own father and mother and
wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life,
he cannot be My disciple.”
Wow! Extreme stuff where there is no happy medium between love and hate. FIRST, I mean, could not the Lord in Matthew 10:37 have toned this down some by saying:
“IF ANYONE LOVES FATHER AND MOTHER – SON OR DAUGHTER EQUAL TO
THEIR LOVE FOR ME, I WILL MAKE ALLOWANCES. AND IF THEY LOVE
THEM MORE THAN ME, THEY HAVE SOME GROWING UP TO DO.”
You know, give us some wiggle room after all. I mean, loosen up! These are powerful and sacred family relationships by God’s own design, and Jesus should make some allowances here if for instance, we just can’t go where He calls us to go into the world on missions. Why? Because it will take us away from the ones we love so much, and Jesus should be sensitive to that. Sorry, for He is saying that if we put our families before Him (love them more than Him), we are not worthy to be His disciples (not deserving of the privilege of being His disciples).
SECOND, the next text, Luke 16:24, is even much tougher and more extreme than Matthew 10:37! Really a stunner! If we don’t HATE parents and wives and children and siblings, yes, even our very life, we cannot be His disciples. I mean, could not the Lord have mellowed Luke 14:26 a bit by saying:
“IF ANYONE DOESN’T LOVE HIS FAMILY, WIFE, CHILDREN, AND HIS OWN LIFE
LESS THAN HIS LOVE FOR ME, HE HAS GOT SOME PRIORITIZING TO
DO WHICH WILL COME IN TIME.”
No, no, no, this is not “COME IN TIME STUFF!” Jesus knows that this all has to be established at the very beginning, for if it isn’t, after a while we would leave Jesus for sure.
I mean, did he have to use the word HATE? Isn’t that really going too far? Instead of what sounds like a GROSS AND INSENSITIVE OVERSTATEMENT, could He not have used LOVE FAR LESS? It wouldn’t sound so cruel and abrasive. Sorry, but we then are not into the EXTREMES OF THE MIND AND THE HEART OF CHRIST.
In short, again:
“FOR CHRIST, A LITTLE LOVE IS NO LOVE AT ALL.”
“FOR CHRIST, MORE LOVE FOR CHRIST AND LESS LOVE FOR FAMILY IS
CONSIDERED BY CHRIST TO BE NO LOVE AT ALL FOR CHRIST.”
Now then, some have explained these “Divine Extremes” in Luke 14:6 in this way:
“OUR LOVE FOR JESUS SHOULD BE SO PASSIONATE AND GREAT, THAT COMPARED
TO IT, OUR LOVE FOR OUR FAMILIES SHOULD APPEAR LIKE HATRED.”
I understand those who interpret it this way, and I know where they are coming from. We should never have hate or have ill-will in our hearts for our loved ones, nor for that matter, for our enemies. That’s right! However, this is not what Jesus says. Not even close. But I believe Jesus means more than this, much more.
Jesus was and is a DIVIDER and not a UNITER, as some would falsely lead us to believe in the ecumenism and tolerance movements of the last day’s apostate church. Jesus did not come to bring peace but a sword. As a matter of fact, He Himself put it this way in Matthew 10:34-36,
“Do not think that I came to bring PEACE on the earth; I did not come to
bring PEACE but a SWORD.”
“For I came to set a man AGAINST his father, and a daughter AGAINST
her mother, and a daughter-in-law AGAINST her mother-in-law.”
“And a man’s ENEMIES will be the members of His own household.”
Severe but there it is! Notice the words SWORD – AGAINST – ENEMY. Really BELLICOSE VOCABULARY don’t you agree? When it comes to following Christ, families will show their teeth, growl, and attack the disciple of Christ like lions in the Roman amphitheater.
“ALL OF JESUS’ LOVE AND HATE EXTREMES ARE IN THE CONTEXT OF THE
STRONG ANTITHESIS BETWEEN BELIEVING AND UNBELIEVING
FAMILY MEMBERS AND FRIENDS.”
This really explains it! Loving Jesus then and now and becoming His disciples means that His disciples will be hated by the world not only, but in many cases by their own families too. That was and is particularly true in Jewish families, and viciously true in Moslem families today who will kill you if you convert to Christianity. I have also seen, and you may have too, when a wife becomes a devoted follower of Jesus Christ and her husband doesn’t, or vice versa, then comes the fulfillment of Matthew 10:22,
“But you will be hated by all on account of Me….”
And in John 15:18,
“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before It hated you.”
EXAMPLE OF LOVING FAMILY MORE:
Speaking of husbands and wives in a spiritually disunited relationship, we and they should be acutely aware of how dangerous it is to marry unbelievers. Some of you may know that Samuel Clemens, or Mark Twain as we know him, was not a happy man. Particularly in his later years, he was crusty and cynical.
Twain was married to a woman named Olivia Langdon. When they first married, Olivia had a simple but devout faith in the Lord Jesus. At first, the young couple read a chapter from the Bible every day and had prayer at meals, but soon this was abandoned due to Twain’s disinterest. He had little if any faith.
Olivia therefore gave up some of her religious convictions as time went along. She traveled across Europe with her husband and listened to his friends who had forsaken what faith they had in God.
Later when sorrow struck their home – three of their children died, mind you – Twain said to his wife, “Liv, if it comforts you to lean on the Christian faith, do so.” Her pet name for Twain was “Youth,” and she replied, “I can’t Youth, I haven’t any.”
Liv’s faith was gone, eroded by her husband and her husband’s friends, and smashed by the death of their three children. In time, she revealed that she loved her husband and children more, and Christ less.
EXAMPLE OF HATING OUR FAMILIES AND OUR VERY LIVES:
When we hate something, we willingly separate ourselves from it, place no desire on it, and can easily rid ourselves of it. I felt that way about a car that we once bought, a FORD GALAXY, which car clued me into the meaning of the four letters of that particular FORD – F-OUND O-N R-OAD D-EAD.
In the first great persecution of Christians under the demented Roman Emperor Nero, thousands upon thousands of Christians were martyred. Estimates go as high as 100,000 being thrown to the lions, burned at the stake, and crucified on crosses. In their love for Christ we read in Revelation 12:11,
“…and they did not love their life even unto death.”
And of course it reminds us of God’s chosen nation ISRAEL – THE JEWS. Between 1939 and 1941, Hitler forced expulsion of the Jews and committed other savage acts against them. Handicapped children and mentally ill adults were murdered, until German public outrage put a stop to it in August of 1941.
The “FINAL SOLUTION” began later in 1941, marking the systematic state genocide of over six million Jews. In their devotion to JAHWEH, they did not love their lives even unto death.
It is in that sense that Jesus said that we must HATE OUR OWN LIVES. When we face persecution and even death for Christ, our greatest love for Him allows us to part with family, possessions, and our lives as if for His sake they have no draw at all – never even give it a second thought. There is no lengthy decision to be made! YES to Christ – NO to everyone else including my life.
And when it comes to hating our loved ones and our lives for Christ, it profoundly means that when it comes to choosing Christ and turning our backs on those who oppose our choice, it becomes black and white in the mind of Christ in the severest terms. What if our family denies Christ and disowns us, and one of them dies, Jesus says in Luke 9:60,
“But He said to him, ‘Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you,
go and proclaim everywhere the Kingdom of God.'”
Who did Jesus say that to? He said it to a fellow who before he would follow Jesus, said to the Lord, “Permit me first to go and bury my father.” Reasonable request, don’t you think? Wrong! Jesus did not even express sympathy to the young man, nor did He tell the young man, “Of course, go to your family, and be sure to convey to them My condolences. I will be praying for you.” Rather, he said to him, “No, do not go, but LEAVE THE SPIRITUALLY DEAD TO BURY THE PHYSICALLY DEAD. And as for you, get on with your calling, and that is to proclaim the Kingdom of God to the whole world.”
Is Jesus serious? Yes, DEAD SERIOUS! Isn’t this extreme? Yes, EXTREMELY!
The truth must be stated:
“WHEN A MAN LOVES THE WORLD AND HIS FAMILY TO A GREATER DEGREE,
AND CHRIST TO A LESSER DEGREE, JESUS CHRIST WILL MAKE NO
ALLOWANCE FOR THE DISPARITY, BUT WILL CONCLUDE THAT
THIS MAN LOVES THE WORLD AND HIS FAMILY AND THAT
HE FLAT OUT HATES CHRIST.”
“WHEN CHRIST IS THE ONE WHO WE ARE TO LOVE, BETWEEN THE HIGHEST
POSSIBLE DEGREE OF THAT LOVE, AND THE TOTAL NEGATION OF THAT
LOVE, THERE IS NO MIDDLE GROUND POSSIBLE WHATSOEVER.”
LOVING GOD – HATING MAMMON
Here again, we enter into DIVINE EXTREMES. We cannot deny them, just intentionally try to avoid them which is commonly done in the church and from pulpits today. To do so is to invent a false religion compatible with the fleshly desires of men, religious and unreligious.
We read at the outset the sharp extremes of Luke 16:13,
“No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love
the other, or else he will hold to one, and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and mammon.”
Before we go deep into this, let us note at the outset that Jesus surely picked His best shots. There is no more deceptive and deadly power on earth than the power of MATERIALISM – MAMMONISM. It is an addiction as strong as heroin and cocaine combined. The more goods of the earth we have, the more we feel we need. Luxuries become necessities, and what was once extravagant becomes essential. And even worse:
“THE MORE WE HAVE, THE MORE WE FEEL WE DESERVE, UNTIL THE POWER
OF MATERIALISM – MAMMONISM SEPARATES US FROM GOD.”
MAMMON simply refers to WEALTH – RICHES – STUFF. Jesus makes it crystal clear, black and white clear, that a disciple of Christ cannot live for two worlds and two masters. There can be no divided allegiance. He did not say that we MAY NOT, but rather, He said that we CANNOT. Having two MASTERS IS AN IMPOSSIBILITY. We cannot have SPLIT- MASTER LOYALTY, for in fact one will end up being loved and the other hated. They will conflict as each of them vies for total devotion. One has to give. WE CANNOT SERVE GOD AND MAMMON, for it is total conflict of interests – THE SPIRITUAL AND THE MATERIAL.
“EVERY MAN ON EARTH EITHER LOVES AND SERVES GOD, OR HE LOVES
AND SERVES MAMMON.”
Jesus does not say:
“WE SHOULD LOVE GOD MORE AND MAMMON LESS.”
No, there we go again, saying what Jesus did not say! Not even loving God and liking mammon can be allowed. This is not about LOVING and LIKING, but in the mind of Christ it is all about LOVING and HATING. And the blunt teaching of Jesus is this:
“IF A DISCIPLE OF CHRIST PASSIONATELY LOVES GOD, HE WILL
PASSIONATELY HATE MAMMON.”
“IF A DISCIPLE OF MATERIALISM PASSIONATELY LOVES MAMMON, HE WILL
PASSIONATELY HATE GOD.”
That is always how it works out, because one will get in the way of the other being totally loved and served. That is why if a pastor announces that in the weeks to come he will be doing a series on money and tithing and offerings, the crowd will be down until the series is completed. Never fails!
Remember, these words were spoken to the disciples of Christ.
To understand this, we must come to grips with a parable that Jesus tells in the same context in which He enforces loving God and hating mammon. That parable is found in Luke 16:1-13, and I will leave you to read it for yourself.
In brief summary, Jesus’ parable deals with a dishonest and slick steward who had been hired by a wealthy property owner to care for his business and finances. We might well call the steward the wealthy man’s BUSINESS MANAGER and ACCOUNTANT, but this guy had other plans. The master learned that his CPA was squandering his money on himself. When it was discovered, the boss ordered an audit of the books and fired the embezzler.
The now unemployed hustler really went into action. Concerned about his future, he hit upon a “Ponzi Scheme” of his own. He went to those who were debtors of his former boss, and made deals with them. Whatever they owed, he would slice the debt majorly, pocket the remaining and reduced debt money, and close the accounts. You have to give it to the guy, he was as sharp as a razor and as crooked as a stick. Even his former boss said to him in Luke 16:8,
“And his master praised the unrighteous steward because he acted shrewdly;
for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own
kind than the sons of light.”
I mean after all, he did plan for the future, and made sure he would have friends down the road. But nonetheless, he joined the unemployment ranks. Smooth operator, but still a scumbag!
Against that background, our Lord presents a powerful application to this story that is so typical of His EXTREME THINKING – NO MIDDLE GROUND. Never! He says to His disciples in Luke 16:9 immediately upon the end of His story,
“And I say to you, make FRIENDS for yourselves by means of MAMMON OF
UNRIGHTEOUSNESS; that when it fails, they may receive
you into the eternal dwellings.”
Now some powerful teaching from Christ’s words of application to His disciples:
FIRST, notice that the entire world money system and the world economy Jesus refers to as the MAMMON OF UNRIGHTEOUSNESS. (Luke 16: 9 and 11) Why? Because the world, like its show-and-tell shyster steward, serves money as its god to get its riches, and as the means for self-enhancement and self-indulgence at any price!
“MEN ALL OVER THE WORLD STRIVE FOR POSSESSION OF GREAT WEALTH BY
THE COMMISSION OF GREAT SINS – MAMMON OF UNRIGHTEOUSNESS.”
“WHILE THE MAMMON GOD HAS ENRICHED ITS MILLIONS WHO SERVE HIM,
IT ENDS UP BEING DAMNED WITH THEM ALL.”
I guess we can say with the wise man in Proverbs 28:20,
“A faithful man shall abound in blessings, but he who makes haste to be
rich will not go unpunished.”
SECOND, while the corrupt steward used the MAMMON OF UNRIGHTEOUSNESS for the NOW, we as stewards of Christ can only sanctify mammon – riches – wealth by using it for the THEN. What are we saying? Simply but profoundly this, we alone can convert UNRIGHTEOUS MAMMON into RIGHTEOUS MAMMON by using it not for self but to WIN SOULS TO CHRIST. They are here called FRIENDS. FRIENDS that we win to Christ by converting mammon into SOULS, will one day serve as a welcoming committee to receive us into our everlasting dwelling places.
In this regard, we are strongly forced to listen to the EXTREMES of Jesus words in Matthew 6:19-20,
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy,
and where thieves break in and steal.”
“But lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth or rust destroys,
and where thieves do not beak in or steal.”
“THE ONLY WAY WE CAN LAY UP TREASURES IN HEAVEN IS TO INVEST THEM IN
THOSE WHO ARE GOING THERE – SAVED FRIENDS.”
“THE EXTREMES ARE CLEAR IN THAT WE MAY NOT LAY UP SOME TREASURES
IN HEAVEN AND SOME ON EARTH. RATHER, WE ARE TO LAY UP ALL OUR
TREASURES IN HEAVEN AND NONE ON EARTH.”
And yet again:
“UNRIGHTEOUS MAMMON WILL ALWAYS BE CONVERTED INTO STUFF, AND
RIGHTEOUS MAMMON WILL ALWAYS BE CONVERTED INTO SOULS.”
In essence, this means money that is converted into Bibles, Testaments, tracts, missionaries, evangelists, food, clothing, shelter, and prayerfully all of that in the name of Jesus into SOULS – FRIENDS. That is laying up for ourselves treasures in Heaven and not on earth.
How can we tell if we are HEAVEN TREASURE HUNTERS and not EARTH TREASURE HUNGERS? Well, so often we can sense it by how we respond to such things as MISSIONS FUND DRIVES in the church. If we say, “Don’t ask me to pledge to God’s work right now. I will give as I am able.” That translated generally means:
“I WILL GIVE IF I HAVE ENOUGH LEFT OVER AFTER FIRST SATISFYING MY
CREATURE COMFORTS AND DESIRES.”
That pretty well should tip us off that we are earth treasure hunters and not Heaven treasure hunters.
Also, so often:
“A TOKEN GIFT GROWS OUT A TOKEN FAITH AND A TOKEN COMMITMENT.”
This manifests itself in some pretty revealing ways, such as only wanting to give leftovers and not the prime cut of our substance.
A well-known leader of the community was found dead drunk – and in public. Allan Emery in his book “Turtle on a Fencepost” tells how his wealthy father sent a chauffeured limousine to pick up the drunken man and bring him to their elegant house.
Allan noticed with concern that his mother had prepared the big guest room. There were fresh flowers on the dresser. And to Allan’s horror, he saw that his mother had made up the handsome four-poster bed with real linen hemstitched sheets and monogrammed linen pillows.
Allan protested to his mother that she knew nothing about drunks – that they get sick and the man would throw up all over the bed, sheets, and antique bedspread.”
Looking at her perturbed son, his mother said seriously, “When he wakes up, he’ll feel sick, lonely, and ashamed. It is important for him to see immediately that he is our honored guest and that we gave him our best.” She knew this man in his disgrace would need all the encouragement he could get.
Which also points out:
“WHEN WE ARE TRULY LAYING UP TREASURES IN HEAVEN, WE WILL BE MORE
THAN WILLING TO GIVE OUR BEST TREASURES ON EARTH TO DO SO.”
THIRD, we are told by Jesus that all UNRIGHTEOUS MAMMON WILL FAIL. (Luke 16:9) The entire world economy will one day collapse. It will all die here, but only that which was invested in SOULS-FRIENDS will go on forever. But God’s spiritual economy will live on forever.
Oh the thrill of knowing that we can do a work for Jesus Christ that will bring eternal glory to God, and eternal blessing to men. One then identifies with Anne Cousin as she writes:
“O IF ONE SOUL FROM ANWORTH MEETS ME AT GOD’S RIGHT HAND,
MY HEAVEN WILL BE TWO HEAVENS, IN IMMANUEL’S LAND.”
LOVING CHRIST – HATING LUKEWARMNESS
A study like this would be incomplete if it did not also include climatically the EXTREME REBUKE of our Lord to the church at Laodicea in Revelation 3:15-16,
“I know your deeds, that you are neither COLD nor HOT; I would that you
were COLD or HOT.”
“So because you are LUKEWARM, and neither HOT or COLD, I will spit you
out of my mouth.”
If anything brings up the EXTREME MINDSET of our Lord, his EITHER-OR rebuke to the Laodicean Church does exactly that. When it comes to the fervor and vitality of the Christian life, we note something shocking:
“THE LORD WOULD RATHER HAVE US FLAMING HOT OR FREEZING COLD,
THAN TO HAVE US MERELY TEPID WHEN IT COMES TO SERVING GOD.”
You know as well as I do how distasteful lukewarm coffee and lukewarm tea are! Frankly, I love a cup of hot tea, and I also love ice tea, but I hate lukewarm tea. Jesus Christ is far more radical and says,
“I WILL SPIT IT OUT OF MY MOUTH, ONLY IN THIS CASE, IT ISN’T COFFEE
OR TEA, IT IS AN ENTIRE LUKEWARM CHURCH.”
SPIT mind you, which to begin with is bad manners, let alone not very medicinal. Yet, He honkers back here and is ready to let fly a huge wad of church spittle. Get the picture! Jesus is a CHURCH SPITTER! Does Christ actually spit churches and denominations out of his mouth? There isn’t a trace of the Laodicean Church anywhere on earth.
Without a doubt, there entire fellowships today that have been spit out of Christ’s mouth! Those churches that sanction baby murder and homosexuality and same sex-marriages and fornication and the sugar gospel have been spit out long ago. They continue to exist, but they have Christ spittle hanging all over them. Is your church on His SPIT LIST?
How can we illustrate this LUKEWARMNESS?
FIRST, one way would be to use the analogy of what has been called for years COMMON LAW MARRIAGE. It really isn’t marriage at all, for in COMMON LAW MARRIAGE, you are neither MARRIED to each other, nor are you DIVORCED from each other. Rather, it is an arrangement without COMMITMENT which can be dissolved whenever you decide to back out of it. It is a marriage not based upon Divine Law, but upon self-serving human law, which is no law at all, but a laugh. It is only another tragic illustration of man being a law unto himself.
I can hear our Lord say in such a case:
“I KNOW YOUR LIVES, THAT YOU ARE NEITHER MARRIED OR DIVORCED;
I WOULD THAT YOU WERE MARRIED OR DIVORCED.”
“SO BECAUSE YOU ARE LOOSELY RELATED AND ABUSING THE PRIVILEGE
OF MARRIAGE, I WILL SPIT YOU OUT OF MY MOUTH.”
What is the LUKEWARMNESS in this case? NO COVENANTAL COMMITMENT – TILL DEATH DO US PART. Or again, NO DEVOTION, JUST EMOTION, that is to say:
“YOU ARE NOT DEVOTED TO MARRIAGE AND EACH OTHER, YOU ARE DABBLING
IN MARRIAGE AND EACH OTHER.”
Hear this, for when it comes to MARITAL DEVOTION:
“FOR MARRIAGE TO BE MARRIAGE, THERE MUST BE TOTAL DEVOTION, WHICH
IS MADE UP OF THREE SMOKING HOT REALITIES – COMPLETE COMMITMENT,
STRONG DESIRE, AND UTTER SACRIFICE.”
You see, COMMON LAW CHRISTIANS lack those three ESSENTIALS OF DEVOTION also – COMPLETE COMMITMENT – STRONG DESIRES – UTTER SACRIFICE.
EXAMPLE OF DEVOTION – COMMITMENT – DESIRE – SACRIFICE
I have always been so blessed by the story of Daniel in the Bible.
Writes Richard J.C. Vos, “As a little boy he was captured and taken away from the country of his birth. The king took him away from his mum and dad to live somewhere else! Together with other boys he was instructed in the palace, far away in Babylon, because the king needed capable officers to run the country.
This was very difficult for Daniel, especially because the people over there did not serve God. Those people did not thank God and did not pray to Him before they went to sleep. They served idols and wanted Daniel to become like them. This had been hard for Daniel, especially to remain faithful to God. But he did, by God’s grace, and continued to serve his Lord.
But in Daniel 6 a struggle for power emerges. On the surface it is a fight between jealous ministers of state and the colleague they envy so much. At the same time it is a battle against the authority of the one true God. It is important to make a mental note of this throughout this chapter. We see it most of all in the king’s prohibition of prayers to anybody, except to himself.
On an earthly level it is political trickery to remove Daniel from his envied position, to get him out of the way for better or for worse. At the same time it is a declaration of independence of mankind, shouting against their Creator: “We pray and serve our gods as we prefer! We are independent, we can do without you and force others to do the same.”
Let us see what Daniel’s response is to this outcry of humanism. Will he give in to the pressures of modern life to compromise his God? Daniel 6: 10 “Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” (End of Vos quote)
Learned what decree? That no one was allowed to make a petition to his God or to anyone else except to King Darius. And if in fact anyone disobeyed, he would be thrown to the lions in the lion’s den. He prayed to God anyway looking out his window, and not hiding it from anyone. When he was in the land of captivity, he devoted himself to God. DEVOTION – COMMITMENT – DESIRE – SACRIFICE. Not being able to go to the temple back home, he would look toward it. If you will:
“WHEN HE COULD NOT BRING HIS PRAYERS TO THE TEMPLE IN JERUSALEM,
HE WOULD LONGINGLY BRING JERUSALEM AND THE TEMPLE
TO HIS PRAYERS.”
“YOU TALK ABOUT A MAN BURNING HOT FOR GOD AND FREEZING COLD TO
FALSE GODS. THERE WAS NOTHING LUKEWARM ABOUT DANIEL.”
SECOND, when I think of the word LUKEWARMNESS, I think of the word CASUAL – CASUAL CHRISTIANS. You know the type:
“THEY ARE NOT RED HOT FOR TRUTH, AND THEY ARE NOT
HARSHLY COLD TO UNTRUTH.”
It is abundantly clear that we are living in the “Laodicean Age of the Church.” If you wax hot on the truths of the Bible, you are blessed to get from the Laodiceans a nod or a grunt. If you become icy cold against untruth, you again will get no more from the Laodiceans than a stare and silence. They are in the MIDDLE GROUND where God cannot be found. They are LUKEWARM – CASUAL – INDIFFERENT – NEUTER about truth and untruth.
Listening to a liberal church goer who follows liberal theology and theologians as she says:
“Conservatives quote Scripture, and liberals quote Scripture too, and we must
meet somewhere in the middle.”
It is “THE AGE OF THE LAODICEAN CHURCH” in which there is little if any DOCTRINAL OR ETHICAL CONSTRUCT remaining in much of modern religion. And in that pukey lukewarmness, anyone who IS DEFINITIVE AND DECLARATIVE AND DEMONSTRATIVE about truth and untruth is despised worse than a heathen, not by the world, but by the Laodiceans! It is then that the lukewarmers become hot under the collar. That includes truth from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22 in which today everything is up for grabs, and nothing is applicable to today or means what it says.
Let me summarize this with two Scriptures, first III John versus 3-4,
“For I was VERY GLAD when brethren came and bore witness to your truth,
that is, how you are walking in the truth.”
“I HAVE NO GREATER JOY THAN THIS, to hear of my CHILDREN WALKING
IN THE TRUTH.”
And then II Thessalonians 2:9,
“and with all the deceptions of wickedness for those who perish, because they
did not receive THE LOVE OF THE TRUTH so as to be saved.”
Allow me to paraphrase the words of our Lord:
“I KNOW YOUR ATTITUDES, THAT YOU ARE NEITHER HOT FOR TRUTH NOR COLD
TO UNTRUTH; I WOULD THAT YOU WERE HOT OR COLD;
“BUT BECAUSE YOU ARE LUKEWARM, AND YOU ARE NOT HOT FOR TRUTH AND
COLD TO UNTRUTH, I WILL SPIT YOU OUT OF MY MOUTH.”
I was having my car serviced at the car dealer today, and I struck up a conversation with others in the car hospital waiting room. As is so typical, the conversation was very light but friendly. It went from cars to family and children etc. Then I inserted this, “How are you all feeling about the state of the nation and the government?” There was silence, and then one man said, “This is how I live – IT IS WHAT IT IS.” That was pretty much the common consensus and the discussion died.
IT IS WHAT IT IS! Which is the same thing as saying “QUE SERA SERA – WHATEVER WILL BE WILL BE.” They are non-comments that cannot be responded to. There was no thought or emotion of celebration of what is right, and not a concern for what is wrong. That attitude of neither hot or cold left the room feeling lukewarm and humid as if it was mixed together with Christ’s spit.
This a-spiritual and a-moral attitude of IT IS WHAT IT IS and WHATEVER WILL BE WILL BE has taken over the American society and the American church. That a-spiritual and a-moral attitude has gotten gay marriages ecclesiastically endorsed and Barack Obama twice elected by lukewarm citizens and church-goers. What is worse, those things are neither good nor bad, THEY ARE WHAT THEY ARE. Live and let live!
Man oh man, give me a rip-roaring fight any day, and not this NEITHER HERE NOR THERE WILDERNESS. Or as C. S. Lewis states in “Shadowlands” when talking to his brother Warnie about the end of winter and the barely start of spring:
“THE LEAVES NOT YET OUT, MUD EVERYWHERE YOU GO. FROSTY MORNINGS GONE. SUNNY MORNINGS NOT YET COME. GIVE ME BLIZZARDS AND FROZEN PIPES, BUT NOT THIS NOTHING TIME. NOT THIS WAITING ROOM OF THE WORLD.”