In this chapter, Chan makes this statement, "Lukewarm people say they love Jesus, and He is, indeed, a part of their lives. But only a part. They give Him a section of their time, their money, and their thoughts, but He isn't allowed to control their lives... Lukewarm people love God, but they do not love Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. They would be quick to assure you that they try to love God much, but that sort of total devotion isn't really possible for the average person; it's only for pastors and missionaries and radicals."
Sadly and very tellingly, in describing the state of a lukewarm believer, Chan also described the great majority of the church today, myself included in that. If we honestly and objectively examine the church today (and remember, as a part of the church, we should be examining our own lives as well), I think we would find very little of the radical follower in our modern-day disciples of Jesus.
I want you to visualize becoming a believer in Jesus' day. When Jesus invited people to follow Him, He was very up front and bluntly honest about the cost. Luke 14: 26-33 give a very honest glimpse into the life of a follower of Christ. There is more there than I am going to copy down here (although you should open up a Bible and read this passage since it is key to understanding the point I'm trying to make), but I'm going to quote the keystone to the entire issue.
V. 26-27 say, "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. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be my disciple." If you wanted honeyed words and flowery messages, Jesus wasn't the rabbi to follow. He was brutally honest about what it meant to follow Him.
Imagine the disciples. You are working in a profitable line of work in your hometown. Suddenly, you're called by a penniless young rabbi to follow Him. Now, a wise guy would sit down and consider his options. You can: 1.) stay in your hometown, continue a line of work you're familiar with, enjoy family life with people you know, or 2.) abandon everything, leave it on the beach, and devote the remainder of your life following a penniless, homeless rabbi around the country.
But what you don't see there is a third option, because it isn't offered. We like to pretend there is a third option there, something like, "stay home, keep your comforts, attend a Jesus conference every year, give some money to Jesus quarterly, and slap an ithcus bumper sticker on your fishing boat. We like that option. In fact, we like it so much that we make that a viable, accepted option.
The only problem there being: Jesus never offered it. Notice Jesus speaks much more often of a cross than he does comfort, and persecution more than peace with all mankind. What I want us to get hammered through our thick teenage heads is this: lukewarm following of Jesus isn't following. It's a pretense.
We may think we're following, but lukewarm devotion isn't devotion at all. It's candy-coated dirt clod. It looks great on the outside, but it's simply hypocrisy on the inside. When Jesus calls us to follow Him, He calls us to come and die, in Him. The message of Jesus Christ isn't compatible with lukewarmness.
Galatians 2:20 says, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me..." Galatians. 5:24 says, "Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." Lastly, John 12:24 states, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit."
Let me break it down to as simple as I can. Lukewarm faith isn't faith at all. Rev. 3 describes Jesus as spewing lukewarm Christianity out of His mouth, which doesn't sound like a reaction toward a believer. When Jesus invites us to follow Him, He wants everything, or He wants nothing.
I can't state it any clearer than that. If you feel that's too radical, then simply spend some time looking around Lk. 9:23-24, 57-62; Lk.14:26-33, Matt. 10:34-39, along with the verses I quoted above. Jesus doesn't offer you a part-time position in His following.
When we claim His name and submit ourselves to Him, we give Him the rule of our lives. We are not our own anymore. Think of that picture. You are no longer your own. When you gave your life to Christ, you gave your life, every bit of it, to Him and His headship over it. That is what it means to follow Jesus Christ. It means to die.
And in dying, to live. In the death of our old man, our desires, our ambitions and aims, our tastes and preferences, we find life, peace, and true fulfillment in the service of the Christ who gave Himself for us. To follow Christ is to die.
It's a radical message. It's uncomfortable and certainly not the culturally acceptable message we would prefer to propagate. Believe me, it would be much easier to tell you to simply repeat a prayer once, toss a tithe in an offering plate on Sunday, don't drink, smoke, or get a tattoo, and voila, you're a follower of Christ. But I can't, because it's not Biblical.
The Biblical message is a much more radical one. It's a call to die to yourself, to abandon the pursuit of your own and surrender yourself to the authority of Christ, to live in Him, to find our very life in Him. It is a radical call from a radical God.