Jesus and Vomit

[from the archives] My kids were sick with the stomach flu (again) this week and this post came to mind. I thought it was worth re-sharing.

My kids had the stomach flu last week, meaning there was lots of vomiting…everywhere…for days. This is never fun as a parent. Never.

Once the sickness subsided and life began to return to normal, I curled up in my bed and began reading some more of Crazy Love, Francis Chan’s book, which I am currently making my way through.

And what do I begin to read, but a whole chapter dedicated to defining exactly what a lukewarm person looks like. Suddenly, I felt uncomfortable. I got squirmy. “Yeah, that’s me,” I thought to myself. “Yup, I do that,” or “No, I don’t, but I should.”

While reading, my week of cleaning up vomit came full circle. I was struck with an image of Christ, bent over, racked with grief and pain, vomiting…violently vomiting. What was He vomiting up? …Me.

I have never liked this verse in Revelation, you know the one I’m talking about…Jesus vomiting the lukewarm person from His mouth. Okay, I’ll just type it. This verse:

“So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth.” Revelation 3:16

For most of my Christian life, I have always felt like the “hot,” “on-fire,” or at the very least “smoldering”  Christian. I never felt the fear of being the very unattractive and undesirable lukewarm one whom God was so quick to rid Himself of.

I felt…comfortable. Gulp. Those are words of death–spiritual death– in regards to our faith. Dare I say, we should never feel “comfortable.”

And look, I’m not going to play coy and pretend as those the words in Chan’s book were revelatory to me and as if they had shaken me from a long naive coma. I knew I was turning lukewarm. I have known that my feelings for Jesus have been running a bit cold lately.

I just didn’t like reading it right there on a page…in print. It stung and it sucked.

I thought then about my kids vomiting, how sick they had been, yes, but more so about how violent the act of vomiting really is.

God could have used a host of other words in that verse or even a host of other metaphors, but He didn’t. He chose to use a graphic, descriptive, violent, forceful metaphor to paint us…me…a picture.

Some translations say “spew” which is the same meaning. Volcanos spew…hot molten lava. They erupt. They explode. They vomit.

I read through page after page of the lukewarm checklist in Crazy Love, and while I certainly did not fall into each category, I have much  forgiveness to seek and repentance to embrace.

The thing is, too, that I really like Jesus. I mean, I like-love Him and I want to LOVE Him. And I really, really don’t want to be ejected, spewed, or vomited from His presence. I want to abide in Him. I do not want to grieve Him or give Him anything, but every. single. little. piece. of. me.

He deserves nothing less and, right now, I deserve nothing less than being vomited from His mouth.

Are you or have you ever struggled with lukewarmness? How do Christ’s words on the subject make you feel? How do you best battle the temptation to become lukewarm?

post image here

23 thoughts on “Jesus and Vomit”

  1. I now have a very strong desire to go get this book…and read this list! I for sure don’t want to be lukewarm and am not very sure if I am or not!

  2. WOW! I recently bought this book and now I am not sure if I want to read it or not. Or maybe better said I should make sure my heart and mind are ready to read this book. I agree I do not want to be lukewarm and vomitted out. That image makes me so sad to think that God might have to feel that way about ME. Lord help us all! Thanks for reminding me that I too desire to be IN LOVE with Jesus and not just a fan of Him.

    1. I am so stealing that line: “I too desire to be IN LOVE with Jesus and not just a fan of Him.”

      I may just even write a post about that very thing. Would you mind? I’ll give you credit for the idea, of course.

      I say, read the book though. It’s simple in its delivery and powerful in its message.

      Thanks for the comment Phoebe.

      1. Steal away and no need to give me credit. Who knows I may have unknowingly stolen it from someone else myself.

        God keeps finding ways to remind me that I have that book (ie: your post) so I am thinking that it is time to get past the first few chapters and put myself up to the challenge. Thanks for the reminder and the encouragement!

  3. Yes, yes, and yes. So good. And at the same time, scary and unnerving. Like God. I think that it is really good to be reminded that while God has a perfect love for each of us through Christ, He is also nooma, “fire and wind,” dangerous, beautiful, powerful, aweful, awesome. Intimate and holy simultaneously. And I know that I tend to like to focus on the “nice” part. To clean off the fangs and trim the mane of the lion that is God. Because it makes me reconsider getting “comfortable” like you said.

    So, in response to your question, I try to remember, refocus on, and reconnect to the God who I serve to step away from my lukewarm behavior. After all, lukewarm-ness is just a biproduct of placing something else at the center of your life where God should be, yes?

  4. In terms of lukewarm-ness, I go back and forth on things.

    I’m always striving to see both sides of an issue…to make sure that I’m not saying something wrong, or that will cause a lot of pain to people, etc. In my teens and early 20’s, I was pretty hard-nosed Christian, not swaying from what I learned in youth group when I was 16. I was a fundamentalist, didn’t like Catholics, just was not what God wanted me to be.

    So, now that I’ve gotten some Christian maturity, I try to be much more loving and realistic about life. So, I often feel I lead a life of luke-warmness, because I’m not as hot and sharp as I used to be. However, I don’t see that as beneficial. So what I’m trying to learn is what it really means to be lukewarm, and what it means to be loving and God-focused. Not always an easy thing.

    Thanks for this post to get me thinking. :) Now I’m going to go and try to not think about vomit. Yeah, thanks for that.

    1. I think that is a great example of lukewarmness that we sometimes overlook.

      Your comment makes me think of the verse in James…”But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”

      This isn’t exactly what you were describing, but that is where my mind went.

      I agree though that our maturity can and should make us re-evaluate our faith and our actions.

      Sorry about the vomit images. i was just being transparent–sharing with you what was in my mind..he he.. :)

  5. Wow Nicole, great post. I love how God often comes along and takes whatever crap we’ve been dealing with that day or week and turns it into a blatantly obvious object lesson. Only He could turn water into wine, only He can take our kids vomit and give us a visual for how He sees us as lukewarm children. Wow.

  6. Oh man.
    I’ll be honest I have always known when I was lukewarm and I think the fact that I always knew was the indicator of me actually being lukewarm.
    Eventually, I can’t keep going like that…being deprived of His love and mercy. And so I will usually have a ‘God-moment’ where I just weep and I feel my heart being tenderized as I intentionally turn back to Him.

    Thanks for this post.

  7. Thanks for this post. I have found that when I am lukewarm with God it’s because I’m in LOVE with the idea of something else. Not the something else as it is but the idea of what it could be. This causes me to obsess over how I can orchestrate everything so that the actual matches the ideal. Then I look over at the life God calls me too and it doesn’t sound as good as the life I’m striving for. That is a huge red flag.

    In a few weeks I’m posting on my blog a “how to” on climbing out of the lukewarm pit. I’ll try to remember to post a link here.

  8. After reading this, I was inspired to ask God to help me to love Him completely and totally so that following Him would be a joy. I’m not there yet, but the fire has been lit. I am in the process of reading “Forgotten God” by Francis Chan. My husband read “Crazy Love” and tells me that he felt totally convicted by the Spirit.
    Thank you!

  9. I really like this post. So many bittersweet thoughts and feelings come to surface. You mention this particular book you are reading and it makes me wonder… Do you have a nice list of ‘favorites’ for books? I know you have mentioned other books in the past but I was wondering if you had list of favorites or most recommended. I read a lot and am so often running out of good reading material aside from the Bible.

  10. I know I am reading this late, very late, but I can’t help but realize how God is pulling at me. I run from the stomach flu every winter like nothing else! I probably run from it more then I run from sin if truth be told.

    For as long as I can remember and even still today the act of vomiting for me has always left me in prayer. Every time I vomit I pray to God to let me breathe again, to let it be over soon. I have true fear when I vomit. To imagine that I could cause that to God, for Him to feel that way because of me because I am his stomach virus, is a difficult image to see. And what a horrible rebuff to His gift of salvation.

    I have had loneliness for God in my heart for so long and today I have realized the true deepth of my fear of returning to God as well. I need a change, a permanent change, in my soul, my heart, and my mind and that terrifies me. For so long I had felt like I was calling out to God and not hearing anything back, I was in a dry place in my faith. What I realize now is the God was waiting for me to know how much of a change I needed because nothing less of all of me would be enough.

    I am absolutely terrified, I have no idea what’s going to happen but I know I don’t want to vomit inducing to the Lord.

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