How do we cure mediocrity in church?
This is probably the top question that church leaders are asking themselves at the moment. Mediocrity is indifference or being “lukewarm”, and look at what God has to say about that.
Revelation 3 14 … ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God (Jesus):
15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
22 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
So here we have a church (or an individual) that thinks it is performing well, while Jesus tells them that they are lukewarm. In fact they do not even realise that Jesus is standing outside the church, asking to come in (verse 20). The church thinks that it is spiritually rich, having all the truth of God’s Word, and therefore not open to any further light. It regards itself as theologically pure and complete, needing no improvement. But the church is actually, in the words of Jesus, “wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked”. This means that they are spiritually blind and cannot fathom that they are exactly opposite to what they think they are, and because they do not have Christ’s robe of righteousness, they are spiritually naked, and about to be vomited out of His mouth.
A lukewarm person is outwardly an on-fire Christian, but inside he is ice cold with no close relationship with God, which makes him lukewarm. He is what we call a pew warmer, someone who is a regular churchgoer but that is all, there is no personal involvement because there is no personal relationship with Jesus. He calls himself a Christian, but he has undergone no change at all and therefore he still acts like a normal, worldly unbeliever. So everyone who has contact with him sees a professing Christian acting like the devil, and therefore giving a totally false picture of God to the world. This is why a lukewarm person, or church, makes God so sick that He wants to vomit them out. He would rather they be cold, not known as Christians, so that God is not maligned by their constant sinful lifestyle.
So what is the remedy? Jesus Himself gives the answer in the Revelation 3 passage. Firstly, He says they should buy from Him gold refined in the fire. The fact that they should buy means they have to give up something to get the promised gold (faith, as we see in the text below). Their pride and self-sufficiency is what needs to go before they receive the faith that they need.
1 Peter 1:7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ …
Faith can only come as we form and grow a close relationship with God. No-one can trust and have faith in Someone they don’t know. And forming a relationship with God takes time and communication, time spent praying (talking to Him) and studying His Word (Him talking to us). So relationship with Jesus is at the heart of obtaining a fire-refined faith, which yields the richness of spiritual maturity.
Secondly, Jesus tells them to get white garments, which refers to the robe of Christ’s righteousness. This can only happen as we totally surrender ourselves to Him, confess our sins and ask for forgiveness. Christ then forgives, removes our sins and casts them in the depths of the sea, and clothes us in His robe of righteousness.
2 Corinthians 5:21 For He (God the Father) made Him who knew no sin (Jesus)
to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Isaiah 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God;
for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness …
Thirdly, God wants to anoint their spiritual vision, so that they may see their dilemma and turn to Him. The Holy Spirit is the One who points out our sins, and enables us to have spiritual discernment.
John 16 7 “… if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. 8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin …
13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth …”
Luke 11:13 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
Philippians 2 12 … work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
Here then, is the answer to the question. We have to realise our own lukewarm state, which is very hard to achieve when you think you have all truth and are just waiting for God to take you to heaven! This can only happen when we humble ourselves and seriously begin to communicate with God, asking Him to show us any deception in our lives, so that we can have the spiritual vision we need. When we then see our corrupt condition, repentance and confession results, with asking for forgiveness. God is keen to forgive, cleanse and clothe us in His righteousness. Now we have to make sure that we start and grow a close personal relationship with God, which will lead to us getting to know Him intimately. Only then can we learn to trust Him and have the fire-tested faith we need. This means daily prayer – opening our hearts to God as to a friend (our communication with Him) – as well as daily Bible study (Him communicating with us). As we all know, any close relationship is built on time and communication.
God gave each human the power of free choice. We can either choose to continue in our mediocrity and perish, or humble ourselves before God and let Him save us. We must know Him and He must know us. Imagine if we should come to the end or our lives and hear the following from Him:
Matthew 7:23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me …”
If we would only follow Jesus’ advice, there would be no mediocrity. God bless as we study and implement His Word!
1 Peter 1:7
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