I believe the biggest temptation to overcome in our present society in the western (prosperous) church is this: how easy it is to be a Christian. When something is easy, and doesn't require much sacrifice - the temptation is to cool down - take it easy, and be 'lukewarm' regarding the faith.
In the final book of the Bible - the book of "The Revelation of Jesus Christ" - Jesus speaks to the Apostle John and tells him to write down future events which will occur according to the plan of God. It is a book in the Bible which outlines a prophetic picture of the future. Since the book was written in about 95 AD (and it is now 2014 AD), much of it has already happened - but many believe the final stages are now taking place.
In Revelation Chapters 2 and 3 - Jesus dictates to John to write 7 letters to 7 angels in charge of 7 churches in 7 cities. Many believe that the last church Jesus addresses - the church of Laodicea - symbolizes the church in the last days - as we are the most prosperous church (in the natural) that has ever existed - with access to more resources and more tools than any previous generation. Check out what Jesus wrote to the 7th church below:
To the Church in Laodicea
14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation.
15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so 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 eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered 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.’” - The Revelation of Jesus Christ 3:14-22
It is pretty clear from the above verse that there can be MASSIVE BLINDNESS that occurs with those who are rich in the natural - not realizing they are spiritually bankrupt.
Let me ask you a serious question: How is your relationship with God? How is it really?
Do you know what is on His heart? Do you ever laugh WITH Him? Do you ever weep WITH him?
Basically: Are you living your life for His glory?
Isn't it amazing that this God that we confess - the God who holds the universe in the palm of His hand - who has invited us into intimate relationship with Him - we so often esteem lightly.
Look again at verse 21 - The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.
He who conquers the natural comfort and tendencies that wealth brings!
You may say, "Well I am not that wealthy?" Wanna bet?
Check out some of these stats:
- Got $2200? In this world, you’re rich. Assets (not cash) of $2200 per adult place a person in the top 50% of the world’s wealthiest.
- If you made $1500 last year, you’re in the top 20% of the world’s income earners.
- If you have sufficient food, decent clothes, live in a house or apartment, and have a reasonably reliable means of transportation, you are among the top 15% of the world’s wealthy.
- Have $61,000 in assets? You’re among the richest 10% of the adults in the world.
- If you earn $25,000 or more annually, you are in the top 10% of the world’s income-earners.
- If you have any money saved, a hobby that requires some equipment or supplies, a variety of clothes in your closet, two cars (in any condition), and live in your own home, you are in the top 5% of the world’s wealthy.
- If you earn more than $50,000 annually, you are in the top 1% of the world’s income earners.
- If you have more than $500,000 in assets, you’re part of the richest 1% of the world.
Suffice to say - if you live in Canada or the US - for sure YOU ARE RICH!
Even the poorest of the poor in North America is richer than most of the world? Who doesn't make $1500 a year (even the poorest welfare recipient is much richer than 80% of the world's population!)
My point is this: even though we are SO RICH in the natural - often times we feel SO SPIRITUAL APATHETIC AND BANKRUPT!
Jesus words have come to pass - we are rich, and our riches have blinded us to the fact that not matter how much money we have - we are poor if we don't have intimacy with Jesus.
I believe this is the greatest test the church in the western world has and will ever face - to have our security and life in God even when we have more than enough without Him.
Is your security in God... or in your good job?
Is your security in God... or in the fact that you live in Canada?
Do you judge the rich young ruler? Would you give EVERYTHING AWAY if Jesus asked you to?
Is your faith (trust) in God, or in money?
It's definitely NOT WRONG to have things - but do things have you?
If you will awaken yourself out of your slumber...
If you can seek God passionately in the midst of your material wealth...
You CAN overcome the temptation which most of the present day church in first world nations is caught in - the lukewarm Christian temptation - and apprehend the gold refined in the fire, the white garments to cover your nakedness, and the salve to open your eyes.
Awakening awaits you...