“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, ‘I am rich. I have prospered, and I need nothing,’ not realising that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from 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” (Revelation 3:15-18) (ESV).
This passage of Scripture has got no relevance, until one understands what being hot or cold means, as compared with being lukewarm. The counsel is that one has to be either hot or cold, rather than being lukewarm. Being hot or being cold are the two extremes that Jesus counsels His disciples to rather be one or either.
In this context, being cold, implies being an atheist, or a nonbeliever. Most Christians, as known today, are contemptuous of being identified with atheists, or nonbelievers. But the counsel of Jesus is that one rather takes the extreme position of being an atheist, rather than being lukewarm, as a Christian. Elsewhere, the same Jesus advises:
“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish. Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:28-33) (ESV).
It is common among Christians to hear denigrating comments against the unbelievers, as encouraging most people to become believers. And indeed, there appears to be some advantages, when associated with Christianity, or some other religion, rather than being an unbeliever. But, Jesus—as the Christ—clearly warned of the route that leads to destruction:
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14) (ESV).
The way of atheism cannot necessarily be viewed as wide, just as the way of true Christianity cannot necessarily be viewed as narrow. The most common route, which is what Jesus implied as being wide is being lukewarm.
It is in being lukewarm where most Christians find comfort. The common advice is never to take extremes, otherwise you face the brunt of being an outcast. Unlike a lukewarm Christian, a red hot Christian has got no comfort, as he/she gets extremely persecuted and has very few friends.
A red hot Christian is not necessarily an entertainer of humanity. He boldly states the truth, without consideration of what people say, or how they respond. He could be wrong in his/her position, but certainly not bothered when proven wrong. That person is committed to the truth more than anything else—which could be the cause of his/her countless persecutions.
A lukewarm Christian is very comfortable, as long as cognizant of holding some truth, when compared to those not having it. But a red hot Christian remains uncomfortable, as long as his/her fellow humanity grope in darkness. That person risks his/her own life, and comfort, when desiring to salvage other people from their sinful conditions.
A red hot Christian is not apologetic, when projecting what he/she considers to be truthful. This is what makes him/her different from the lukewarm Christians, who are characterized in denominationalism, as known today.
As a group, lukewarm Christians take comfort in holding on to the truth that the rest of humanity appear as not possessing. They feel safe, as even abusing Matthew 7:13-14, supposing that their being few in numbers, represents those going through a narrow gate.
However, they represent what Jesus warned His followers against: “For you say, I am rich. I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realising that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17) (ESV).
The red hot Christians are not relieved by discovering truth that others have not yet discovered, until their friends have also discovered it. This happens to be the truism that most Christians out there, totally miss. When God reveals something truthful to you, which others have not yet discovered, that bestows responsibility on you to also help others. I would be telling a lie, if I say that is easy.
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:16-18) (ESV).
In my writings I have always compared two principles of living that are opposed to each other. One is self-centredness and the other is altruism. Self-centredness is what makes it difficult for most people to help those in need. As projected in self-centredness, lukewarm Christians do not want to be involved in troublesome activities. Nothing is attractive in altruism, as projecting the characteristics of red hot Christians. See [Christianity can be defined in one word: Altruism].
The fact that the author of the Book of Revelation was in the island of Patmos, due to persecution, suggests that he was a red hot Christian. Apparently, Paul was also a red hot Christian, who wrote most of his epistles while in prison, due to persecution. Most of these early apostles were murdered for one specific reason: being red hot Christians.
The other extreme, described as coldness, is also better than being lukewarm, according to Revelation 3:15-18. Such people also get persecuted by lukewarm Christians. But their favourable attribute is in that they do not pretend to be what they are not.
In other words, they are not hypocrites, as also loved by the one who died on Calvary’s cross. Jesus promised that, at His own time, He will take such people out of their confusion. Certainly, no-one else can do that, except Jesus Christ.
Simply put, this is what makes Christianity not something to be taken as a casual matter. You become more physically vulnerable, when so blessed as to receive the truth that your fellow men have not received.
This happens to be the only reason why Jesus also taught that we should not judge (Matthew 7:1-4). The work of Christianity is more about the work of Christ, than physical human beings. See [The only time a Christian should be depressed].
Being granted with some revelation is not necessarily an advantage, over others. That person bears some responsibility to help others to also come out of their chutes. But that does not mean superintending over them, as to assume being superior. The best method is by living an example of love, among one’s fellow humanity. See [Influence is the method, not witnessing].
A red hot Christian is not apologetic about doing or living by what he/she considers to be right. He seeks to influence other people and not necessarily being influenced to do wrong things. This is what causes persecutions to come his/her way. Traditions, customs and culture are irrelevant to a red hot Christian.
In this life achievers get appreciated and celebrated. Such people adopt the term celebrity, because of their achievements in societies and they receive fabulous treatment from ordinary people. However, this does not include the red hot Christians, who celebrate only when persecuted (Matthew 5:10-12).
Just by looking at Jesus’ story, one sees a real celebrity who never enjoyed the benefits of His achievements—but the dehumanising cross. It is in Jesus where a true example of a red hot Christian is characterised. Many people pretended to love Jesus—thronging him wherever He went—only to desert Him at His most crucial moment of need.
In this world’s ways of looking at things, a red hot Christian can be categorized among the insane people. That person has got no share in the customs and traditions of this world. Like Jesus, His crown awaits him/her, only as promised in Scriptures. However, those future promises are as sure as the certainty of the rising sun tomorrow.
One of the greatest falsehoods is in assuming that Christianity is about enjoying good life, and receiving accolades from ordinary people. Jesus also received great accolades, during His time. But He very well knew that such accolades were not genuine. He could even see through the pretence of His chief apostle, Peter, resolutely pretending to stand by His side when facing death (Matthew 26:30-35).
A wise person does not get fascinated by most of what is projected, in Christian world. There is nothing wrong with remaining in ignorance, as long as taking comfort in that ignorance. What is wrong is pretending to be what one is not—seeking to benefit both in this life and in the life to come. See [By rejecting the child born, they became the antichrists].
Jesus says he will spew those who are neither cold nor hot. One of the prophets of old, Elijah, once challenged those of his time to choose between two opinions: “And Elijah came near to all the people and said, ‘How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.’ And the people did not answer him a word” (1 Kings 18:21) (ESV).
Notice that Elijah did not cajole people to avoid worshipping Baal. But he simply challenged them to choose between two principles. As a prophet, Elijah represented the same God who spoke in Revelation 3:15-18. The same God, through Jesus, lambasted the hypocrites of His time (Matthew 23).
The people in Elijah’s time desired to be identified as God’s people, enjoying the benefits of God’s protection. Yet at the same time, unable to renounce the comfort in Baal worship. Similarly, those in Jesus’ time desired the benefits of the Kingdom, yet also desiring the comfort of living in the flesh. How different is that, with the current crop of Christians?
The red hot Christians are not as obvious as most people assume. Nothing is commonly admirable with them. As ordinarily persecuted, such people are regarded as abnormal and treated badly. This is just as the atheists, or unbelievers are treated badly. This world is for the lukewarm people, who take advantage of the provisions in the Bible, more than taking seriously, what Jesus taught.
Unfortunately for them, while desiring to be in God’s Kingdom, these people are characterised in those who Jesus described in Matthew 7:21-23. Sadly Jesus will not even give them a sympathetic ear, as He declares: “Depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (verse 23b). Very few Christians consider the shame being alluded to here, as something to worry about due to the present day comfort.
Most Christian brothers know very well that at the second-coming of Jesus, there will be a lot of disappointment among Christians. In their self-centred attitudes, they assume that it is the other Christians who will be disappointed and not them. Others assume that they are saved by their own effort. While others assume that being in conformity with the majority is what saves them, against what Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
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