The Lukewarm Christian

The lukewarm Christian has become an epidemic. It is an often unspoken, but all too present reality in the American Church. The lukewarm Christian is the Sunday Christian, checking into service at 9:00 a.m. and checking out at 10:30 a.m.

They are the believers who serve as little as possible, give as little as possible, and love God as little as possible.

The lukewarm Christian is content where they are and resist anyone challenging or questioning their heart or desire for God.

The Lukewarm Christian is a disgrace to God and His reputation.

I have been the lukewarm Christian. I have quietly resided in the place of apathy, being neither hot nor cold for God.

But when we discover this about ourselves, when we say the words out loud, “I am lukewarm,” what then? It is not enough to acknowledge it and walk away. Christ’s love compels us to have a radical response to this realization. It must…

After watching this video, how do you feel? Convicted? Motivated? Thankful? Moved? If you found yourself saying “I am lukewarm,” what will your response be now?

31 thoughts on “The Lukewarm Christian”

  1. Oh my gosh, I totally love this video! After watching it I find myself moved and I also find myself thankful. By the grace of God, I am no longer a lukewarm Christian. I do feel like I have caught the fire of the Lord and now everything in my life revolves around Him.

    My life is so much better this way, thank you Lord!

  2. Good stuff but the part that always gets me about Chan is his ability to speak to the human condition. I hear people say, “You stepped on my toes” and then they do nothing about it. The human condition. I hear people who watch videos about poverty, child prostitution and child-forced labor and they say, “that’s not right,” or, “that’s sad,” and they do nothing about it.

    The thing is…I am just as guilty.

    1. I so agree Robbie. Chan so has the ability to speak right to our hearts. The Spirit of God truly speaks through him. I’d go so far as to call him a prophet. But that is part of the reason I like Chan so much.

  3. Lukewarm is indeed an epidemic. You know what’s on top of that? Many, many Christians try to make others as lukewarm as themselves. If someone is boiling hot for God and trying to do so many powerful things other Christians line up to throw cold water on them in an attempt to make them lukewarm…and that lukewarm is a version of Christianity that offends no one and those who aren’t Christians line up to say how great they are because they’re “enlightened” Christians.

    Too many Christians despise the people who are radical and on fire for Christ. The church is it’s own worst enemy.

    1. Jason, you are so right! So many “on fire” believers are judged or looked down upon by the ‘Enlightened” ones. As if it is intellect that guides our spiritual life. Yes, God gave is the ability to reason and use logic, as well we should. But our mission–the call to take up our cross and make disciples–well, that requires so much more than our heads. It requires our lives.

  4. I’ve definitely been lukewarm, and I sink back into lukewarm from time to time. I’m often inspired by others’ fire for Christ in my own walk. My biggest question lately has been, “How do I (or how do we) take it upon ourselves to inspire others in our everyday lives to be something other than lukewarm? Shouldn’t it be part of our mission every single day?”

    I’m afraid that I can be on fire for Christ, but still afraid to approach someone who is lukewarm. Is that possible? Or if i’m on fire, I should have no problem facing the fear of sharing that fire? Hmmm. Something God and I should speak about I suppose.

    1. Great questions. i think being on fire, by nature implies a kind of all-consuming force. Fire spreads. it cannot be contained. It overtakes people and that’s exactly why we use that analogy. Other people are drawn to individuals who are in love with Jesus.

      Plus, I think we have a misconception that “being on fire” means we have to look like crazed, loud, annoying, “religious” folks. No, you can be on fire and still be totally approachable and inviting. I once heard someone say that it is a Christians job to make home look inviting. Home being heaven. I love that idea.

  5. I’ve been lukewarm. When we really take a hard look, we all either have been or are right now. But the key is do we wallow in the lukewarmness…or do we get out of it? For me, when I’ve been lukewarm, it’s because I’m either not in the Word consistently or I’m serving in a ministry or church that I need to move on from.

    Being in the Word daily is so important. Find the time. Make the time. That will combat your lukewarmness. If your serving in a ministry or church and you’re just going through the motions or feeling disconnected…maybe it’s you. But maybe it’s time for a change. Visit another church. Get involved with a small group for women or men. Maybe a group that has no connection to your church.

    You won’t please everyone with this change. It’s actually easy to be lukewarm. So, piss off Satan, your family, and friends. Because if what you’re doing and where you are is what Gods needs you to do…where He needs you to be…that’s all that’s important.

    1. Ken,
      Oh my word, I loved that post. How did I miss it? Such a funny, although truth-filled satire.

      I think you just inspired me to write a post using your sentence right here: “we confuse being on fire for church with being on fire for God.” So good.

      1. “…we confuse being on fire for church with being on fire for God.”

        Wow, I could not have said it better myself. This is an exact reflection of what I have been feeling at our Reformed Baptist Church. The Pastor is super excited about church. He preached that one of the sure signs you are growing in Christ is that you love to go to church, yet you did not mention anything about obedience to God’s law or denying self and taking up the cross, etc. I have been attending for a year and a half and no sermons are ever preached against sin, and nothing practical is ever brought up; just a lot of theology.

        One preacher described it well and said, “Jesus did not say, admire me, he said FOLLOW me.”

        Thank you for your blog and your post. I ran across it on a search because I have been so frustrated that all the churches around us are lukewarm; and the best of the churches, they love to study bible doctrine but do not care to separate themselves from the world. It is Sunday Christianity.

        I can’t wait to look at that post from Ken Hagerman and watch that video you posted. At work they are blocked.

  6. How has time changed the definition of luke-warm? Is today’s tepid yesterday’s ice cold? It seems like modern society has made it increasingly difficult to be perceived as equal parts sane and on fire for god. It is ok, or even possible, to be burning bright on the inside while appearing to those around you as being merely Luke-warm?

    1. Parker,
      Agreed and excellent point. Christians are already painted as radical, insane, mentally-unstable weirdos. Then you add the “on fire” part. Heck, I don’t even want to be a part of that. But as I commented to Wiley, I don’t think we have an accurate picture of what being “on fire” really means. We think it’s all hyped-up, out of control, Jesus-freak behavior. When really, the radical message of Jesus was so straightforward: Love God and love others more than yourself.

  7. The question people need to answer is “Are you a Christian or are you a Disciple?” Anybody can hide behind “Christian”. The new testament only states “Christian” 2 or 3 times…but Disciple, that’s everywhere. Jesus wants Disciples not Christians.

    1. Victoria,
      I am beaming–smiling form ear to ear–at your comment. It is Truth and I love it! Amen. We are not merely Christians, but rather we are disciples of Christ, who should also be making disciples who make disciples, who make disciples…

  8. My question is, how can you know what lukewarm is? I am trying to live for God, attempting to convey His greatness to the young people I lead, and messing up time and time again. Does being ‘on fire’ mean I would be willing to be a missionary in Japan/sell all my possessions/something equally radical to show myself and God how serious I am about Him? Because I definitely don’t feel like I could do those things. What does being ‘on fire’ look like in day-to-day life?

  9. Hmm, I would say I’m luke warm. I’ve always stayed close to God but in my different seasons of learning and figuring my salvation out, I’ve swayed. I don’t think it’s entirely a bad thing because I’m figuring it out for myself, as opposed to being spoon fed my Christianity. Which sounds like a weak excuse and maybe it is.

    Are we ever really ‘on fire’ forever though? I think all of our fires dim down and flame up at different times in our lives. I would say I’ve definitely been on dire but it’s not consistently all the time.

  10. It’s so easy to be lukewarm in first world countries where life is relatively easy and distractions abound. For years now, I’m not even sure I’ve been lukewarm, and I’m never challenged about it. The video was hugely convicting. I can certainly see myself as being spit out in my present state.

  11. Good comments. However I do think that we have a culture of negativity that diminishes our walk with Christ. Criticizing others is a human trait, but when did the custom of criticizing ourselves becomes so prevalent? There is a huge difference between examination and correction versus negative thinking and self directed hatred. One thing we all tend to forget is that while we need to be the light of the world for Christ, he did not die because we are perfect lamps, or near perfect even. It’s a miracle that we even have light at all,  rather than being  some peculiar mystery that sometimes we lack our full potentiality of brightness. He died because we are wretched, and that wretchedness is still there for all those who know Christ. We still sin, and in fact often we are more hypocritical than the non believers. We live a dual life of contradiction ( Romans 7-7-24) and this creates  pure absurdities within those who call on Christ. It is entirely foolish, and quite obvious to the world! 
    With that said, we can call ourselves lukewarm, and feel hopeless and depraved, or we can rather find hope in God’s grace and his love and thrive off of hope rather than despair. I think calling ourselves lukewarm leads us to despair and to mere negativity, forgetting that Christ died because we are not always bright. Until sin is defeated on earth, Christians are subject to the law of undulation, as C.S Lewis would call it. Our sin necessitates it. We will always sway, and we will always sin. We should repent, but I feel that it is much healthier and much safer to pray to God in Hope and assurance of divine Grace than to wallow in self hatred at our inability to be ‘perfect’ or ‘hot.’ Christians. When we sin, the church is justified. When even the best disciples sin,  it is proof that the word of God is true. In that sense, nobody is ever truly ‘hot.’ To me it sounds like some silly Christian jargon, getting lost in trifles when God has big plans for all his followers. 

  12. My questions are these:

    [1] Are we really lukewarm, or are we actually just bored or uncomfortable with the religious system, because deep down we know something is wrong with it?

    [2] Do we know any good viable alternatives to the religious system that actually function well, and if we find a viable alternative, are we willing to jump in whole heartedly?

    [3] Is it difficult to stay Jesus focused, or focused on Jesus’ eternal purpose, or do we even know what his eternal purpose is?

    [4] Is it difficult to have a deeper relationship with Jesus because we really do not know Jesus as well as we might think?

    [5] Do we perhaps need to get a better understanding of the deeper life teachings, so we can know Jesus better?

    [6] Could it be that maybe we are not in a horrible sinfully lukewarm condition, but instead could it be that maybe Jesus loves us, and we have a difficult time accepting it or understanding it?

    [7] Could it be that we do not understand the love of Jesus as well as we thought? 1 Cor.13:4-8

    I’m just thinking out loud here… 8D

    P.S. I love the blog… sorry if this was long…

  13. Aadel,
    Thanks for sharing that link. It was an interesting read, although I’m not sure that I fully agree with his thinking. I didn’t really get into what I think being lukewarm is or truly means in this post. I suppose that could be a post for another time. All that to say, the post you shared got me thinking and I always love that, so thanks!

  14. Well crap.

    I’m too busy for God and so I hold on to lots of theological beliefs and never do anything with them. It’s like I sort of hope that believing in stuff strongly and knowing exactly what I believe will cancel out the issue of me never having time to do anything with it. And so I purposefully ignore any guilt or shame or conviction. I’ve made myself lukewarm on purpose, in order to cope with life. I believe God is important, but I also believe at least 30 other things are equally as important.

    But I’m *good* at being lukewarm. I’m not good at fasting or doing religious things. I’m good at having strong beliefs and judging other people who don’t. But I’m not good at having a real relationship with God. It just doesn’t work. I’ve given up. Maybe I’m just doomed to be hypocritical and lukewarm forever. I say I’m not a Calvinist but hey, maybe I am.

    And you know, I think part of the reason I’m lukewarm is because I’m disappointed. I’m quite a romanticist– I love nature, literature, music, art, love, philosophy. I love beautiful, emotional things. I believe there is beauty in life that our modern world squishes under it’s blacktop pavements and Apple stores. Initially I set out searching for this beauty in God. Somehow, I didn’t find it. And I was, and am, disappointed. So, I employ what I think is the requisite amount of faith required to not go to hell. But so far this God thing isn’t amazing or excessively spiritual or comforting or whatever it is it’s supposed to be. Maybe I just haven’t found the bit of Christianity that’s for me. Maybe I should check out Catholicism.

  15. I am passionate about this topic. So much that I continually address it in my life and writing. I have been the lukewarm Christian. I refuse to go back!

  16. Nicole, love your blog. Your blog has inspired me to start seriously blogging!! Just wanted to say thanks. Love this post. To many times people don’t respond to Gods call back to being on fire. So refreshing and reminded me to put Him first!

  17. Perhaps the Christian experiment in America has failed. And the reason it failed is that an increasing number of those who call themselves Christians are accepting of concepts like “gay Christian.” As though sexuality and sexual activity were assumed and you come afterward and stick on some stripped down or altered version of Christianity on top of that. Remember how it was supposed to be? That a person would be a Christian first and only after firmly establishing that would one ask how could a Christian in good faith do “X” whatever “X” is. In the US everybody wants to be a black Christian or a cowboy Christian or whatever. This backwards style of Christianity guarantees that eventually there will be no Biblical Christians. There will be only do your own thing, whatever, pseudo Christians in name only.

    A la carte, cafeteria Christianity is lukewarm at best.

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