I took my time. I took my time through the aisles at Target last Wednesday afternoon. I called my daughter, Hannah, when I found the diapers on clearance. I wondered why she sounded like they were already traveling to evening Bible class. It was only 6:20 and they’re hardly ever early anywhere. I talked with her a bit and then went over to pick up a box of Kleenex, the last item on my list. Placing it in my cart, I glanced down at my Bama watch and realized it was only 6:25. I even had time to breeze through the clearance clothing before checking out and making the five minute trek to the church building. I’d even be early!
When I did arrive there, I still had lots of time. It was ten till 7. I went around to the back of my car and went through Target bags till I found the little gift card and M&Ms I had bought for my secret “adopt-a-college-student” friend. I had plenty of time to hide those where he would find them.
And then, while I was “lolly-gagging” in my trunk there, my friend Brandy drove up and parked beside me. That sweet girl was hurrying her two babies out of the car and getting her Bible and diaper bag and…
“Hey Brandy. How are you?”
“Hey, Mrs. Cindy. We’re good. Just running a little late.”
“Aw…you’re not late. You’re just on time.” I said, still looking through the stash for that gift card.
“Well, just a couple minutes behind…” she said.
After a few comments about the boys and how that little one is already walking, she scurried on in. I found the stuff I was looking for and started walking toward the entrance. Then, as I looked around the parking lot, which was full of cars, but completely desolate of people, I thought, “Well that’s kind of weird.” I walked in and saw that the giant wooden doors that separated the large fellowship hall class from the offices and fifth grade classroom…were closed.
“Am I late?”…I thought. “But my watch says it’s seven minutes till seven…Has it stopped?…Well, no…that second hand is ticking…They just closed those doors a bit early tonight.”
I unlocked the office doors and went in there to look for a piece of ribbon to tie the M&Ms to the gift card. And then I glanced up at Mrs. Patsy’s office clock. AHHH!…It’s 7:10!
Moments later, stumbling over the women in the ladies class, I glanced up at the board where Lindsey, who was teaching, was listing the ways we evangelize within our homes. She already had a long list going. Cindy Colley was very late! I was now sitting beside a visitor…sweet Lori Lynn Rives, the young “hero mom” who had originated the idea that has now turned into the international Digging Deep study. I hugged her, but I was thinking…”What must she think of me, “Mrs. Let’s-all-be-deep-Bible-students!”…tripping over her at 7: 10 to…well…Bible study?
Seriously, I know it probably didn’t matter so much to anyone but me, but I kept thinking about that Bama watch. I love that watch, but if that thing had been running right, I would have been on time. If it had completely stopped, I would have still been on time. I would have figured out that it had stopped hours ago. But because it was running, but losing time, it had totally thrown me off my game. (I know, I should have been looking at my phone.…)
It reminded me of what the Spirit gave us in Revelation 3 to the church in Laodicea:
“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”
It’s not the people who have totally stopped (working, running, ticking…those who have stopped even pretending that they are accurate representations of what God wants them to be).…And it’s surely not the people who are the real thing: who are aligning themselves as nearly as humanly possible to the standard.…It’s neither of these groups that make God most nauseated. It’s the people who are still ticking a bit; they are still pretending they are doing the job. These are the people that God will just spit out of His mouth.
Now, we’ve put those people through two analogies. They are the lukewarm liquid that nauseates God. They are the ticking watch that is totally inaccurate. They have just enough Christianity to “throw people off”. They are pretending they are getting it right, but their batteries are weak and they don’t really have their hearts in what they are doing anymore. And, just like the Bama watch threw me off my game, they are influencing others to miss the mark.
If the watch had told me it was 7:00, when it was truly 7:00, I would have been right on time. If the watch had said, say…2:30, I would have known there was a problem, and looked elsewhere for my standard. But because it was still in the proximity of being right, I trusted it. That’s how it is with lukewarm Christians. If they would only get out of the proximity of faithfulness, we could easily see that we cannot count on them and that we should not be trusting their examples. But because they have one foot in the church, sometimes we fail to see that other foot, dangerously sliding around in the world! We trust them. We are influenced by them. Outsiders take them for examples of Christianity…and when the judgment day comes, those big doors will be closed…for them and for those who trusted them.
I’m mad at that watch. But I think I will get a new battery, and give it one more chance (because it is a Bama watch, after all.) Maybe some people need to get a new battery and give it another go.