How Can a Church Become Complacent? Part a. A Study Through the 7 Churches of Revelation
Saving the Madonna with Child.
There was a special taskforce during World War II whose mission was to recover precious works of Art that had been stolen by the Nazis. Recruiting these soldiers to the taskforce was difficult, for the attitude of most was this: “We are at war. There is no time for such trivia.” Nonetheless, a handful of soldiers saw this as important, and this group, who became known as “the Monuments Men”, risked their lives to save this piece of our heritage.
On May 16, 1945, Captain Posey and Private 1st class Kirstein, Monuments Men to the heart, walked into a mineshaft just outside the town of Altaussee in Austria. They had found information that works of art had been hidden in that shaft. They were surprised and frustrated that the mine had already been dynamited. Would that mean that all the pieces of art hidden in that mine had already been destroyed?
What they didn’t know is that the eight bombs that the Nazis intended to use to destroy the mine had been secretly removed by local Austrians, and in order to prevent any further destruction of this precious art work, the Austrians had blown up the entrance to the mineshaft. The Nazis were far from happy, and they ordered that all Austrians in that village be shot. Fortunately for them, the Americans were too close, and the orders were never carried out.
Amongst the pieces retrieved from this mine was the Madonna with child, which is purported to be the only statue from Michelangelo that has ever been exported from Italy. It had been seized from the Bruges Cathedral of Notre Dame in May 16, 1945, under the sad eyes of the church worker who was helpless when the Nazis tucked it between two mattresses, loaded it into a Red Cross vehicle, and drove away.
Many men have risked their lives to preserve our past heritage. Wouldn’t it make sense that we, as believers, should also risk everything we have for our future heritage? Shouldn’t we love one another like never before? “Since everything here today might well be gone tomorrow, do you see how essential it is to live a holy life? Daily expect the Day of God, eager for its arrival. The galaxies will burn up and the elements melt down that day.” (2Pet 3:11-12a, MSG)
Still, why are some of us admonished with such words: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm-neither hot nor cold-I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” (Rev 3:15-16, NIV2)? That’s quite rash wouldn’t you say?
Have you ever drunk water that is lukewarm? Believe me, it’s quite unpleasant. The tendency of most of us who drink such water is to spit it out.
This is the warning addressed to the believers of Laodicea. Interestingly enough, Laodicea truly had a water problem. Being down in a valley, there were problems getting water to the city. They soon found a “solution,” building an aqueduct with their own funds to bring the refreshing cold water from the mountains nearby. After all, wasn’t Colosse, a nearby town, famous for its cold, refreshing water? Didn’t this water flow freely from the snow-covered peak of Mount Cadmus? Couldn’t Laodicea benefit from such water as well?
Sadly, their money did not resolve the problem. Yes, they now had an aqueduct that would bring water, but by the time that cold, refreshing water reached Laodica, it had turned lukewarm!
Can you imagine how frustrated they were!
They didn’t give up though. Down in the valley, where the River Lycus connects with the Maeander River, there were hot springs. This reminded the Laodiceans about Hierapolis who had hot springs, and drinking such warm, delicious water would sure feel good! Some Laodiceans decided to take that water from the hot springs and bring it to Laodicea. Unfortunately they found that . . . You guessed it right . . . The water had become lukewarm when it reached the city!
So many of us enjoy drinking hot water, especially if we have some herbal tea to add to it. My favorite! My wife drinks ordinary hot water in the winter. It feeds her with the necessary heat to face the cold weather. And I don’t know of anyone who hates cold, refreshing water during a hot summer day.
The same is true with believers. Some are like hot water. They are the encouragers who help us face the day. Others are like cold, refreshing water. We always feel welcomed by them. But then there are also lukewarm believers. They don’t refresh us in any way. They are indifferent and complacent, and these make us want to “spit” them out of our mouths. I am certain you have met some of these. The sad part is that there are churches out there that specializes in being lukewarm!
The question remains, how did they end up being that way? The answer will be found next month, as we will pursue our search to this extremely strange ailment that afflicts some churches and believers.
I urge all of us to either refresh others or feed them with the warmth that comes naturally from our hearts, as Jesus resides there. Everyone is welcome! We have room to make more friends-at least I hope you feel that way as well! If not . . . Join us for next month’s message.
God bless you!