For the past year or more most of the world has had more temperature checks than any of us could have imagined. Every door we entered when we were allowed to leave our homes usually meant a temperature check would be required. It was a big change from when most of us rarely had a temperature check unless we were ill or suspected that we were.
Our enthusiasm for weather forecasts and weather apps suggest we pay attention to temperatures outside of our bodies as well. Most of us have a favorite forecaster we like to check in with most every day.
Of course, there is also the difficulty of determining what the thermostat setting should be for our cars, homes, and offices. It’s clear to us that we all have very different comfort levels, and they are exacerbated as we age. Invariably one spouse runs colder and wants the thermostat turned up (my hubby) and one spouse runs warm-to-hot and wants windows open and the thermostat set much cooler(me).
Most of us have strong feelings about the temperature of things like coffee, tea, and soup as well. Most would agree there is nothing appealing about a lukewarm cup of coffee or tea or a bowl of soup.
If we are relationally sensitive, we likely check in on the temperature of the relationships that matter most to us if we sense a change is happening. That’s most true of close friends, and close family members like parents, children, and spouses. We often can perceive that a relationship has cooled without a clear sense of why and it leaves us unsettled. Other times we might sense that the relationship is steamy because of unsettled disagreements or expectations, and we aren’t always sure we are ready to engage that person if things are too hot and have the potential to explode.
But what if the temperature is so neutral that you can’t tell? That can leave many of us feeling at sea as well. A tepid, lukewarm relationship has little appeal to any of us, but it can happen if we leave that relationship unattended, take it for granted, or get our attention drawn away from this one we care about.
What is the temperature of your relationship with the Lord? Has it changed since you (I) first loved Him?
Before any of us answers too quickly, maybe we ought to assess a bit more carefully. Have our own times of quiet and devotion with Him become somewhat routine going from one devotional to another or reading a prescribed reading without much thought or connecting spark with the Lord’s heart? Are our times with our faith community more ritual than relationship, things we almost routinely do certain days of every week?
Life can become routine and if it is comfortable, relationships can begin to change without much notice. We think we still care, but we don’t spend time with that person as we once did. We don’t share the intimate details of our lives that only someone very close to us used to hear. We get consumed in our own stuff and don’t consider our value for the person or theirs to us. It may not be intended, but it happens, nonetheless. And guess what? It not only happens with our human relationships but with the Lord as well. Our love life with Him begins to dim even though we believe in Him and go through all the routines that have become habitual for us perhaps.
…”we lose touch with the elemental, personal, and essential glories of God and our own terrifying needs. We become like the Laodiceans: neither cold nor hot but a comfortable and civilized lukewarm.”Eugene Peterson in This Hallelujah Banquet
Who were the Laodiceans? They are included in the seven churches’ letters that are addressed in the Revelation of John. Where would we have found them?
Laodicea was an ancient city located in the Lycus River Valley of Anatolia, near Hierapolis and Colossae. Archaeologists have learned that it was a consumer society, center of banking, fashion, and medicine of that time. Compared to many places of the time, it sounds like a good place to live. Could it have been too good?
“As the years went by, a terrible thing happened to the Christians of Laodicea. They became more influenced by their affluent culture than by the Cross. They became consumers. They began to treat Christ as a consumer item. They invested in religion the way they invested in the financial market. They shopped for religion the way they shopped for clothes. They used religion the way they used medicine. They treated Christ with the cool calculation of consumers.”Eugene Peterson in This Hallelujah Banquet
And as a result, they appear as the one church in Revelation that does not receive commendation. It was a city where it had not been too dangerous to be a Christian, so freedoms were taken for granted. And with that freedom came love that turned from passion to cool connectedness. But this does not work! Being believers is not a spectator sport.
“We cannot be lukewarm spectators before such a Christ. We can only be passionate participants or ice-cold deniers.”Eugene Peterson in The Hallelujah Banquet
Paul warned about this possibility in his second letter to Timothy:
“They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!”2 Timothy 3:5 (NLT)
None of us will be able to stand in the storms we face if we are not pursuing a vibrant passionate relationship with the Lord in the easy times.
Is it time for a temperature check of a different kind than we have experienced for over a year?