Here it is again. Groundhog Day. And as many of you can recall, this is the day that dear old groundhog, the great meteorologist that he is, Punxsutawney Phil, tells us if we’re going to have six weeks more of winter or not. The “holiday” can also conjure up reminders of an old Bill Murray movie where the main character keeps repeating his days.
Some may call the repetition déjà vu, others may say that’s just how history goes. Somehow or another we tend to repeat ourselves. Whether it’s good or bad, we are creatures of habit. There’s comfort in sameness and routine, and we all like it. But is that what God wants for us?
Consider the Israelites of the Old Testament. They had pulled away from God and thought that following His laws was meaningless, so they built for themselves wooden idols to worship, among other things. They engaged in sexual sin, defiled the holy temple, and overlooked obvious corruption from each other. Yet God withheld His anger and showed amazing love (and patience!). He protected them from their enemies whenever they attacked, after which the Israelites would return to Him. But then they would eventually fall away again and the whole cycle would repeat.
This happened over many years and many generations. Yet God was patient with His children until He just couldn’t take it anymore. And that’s when He allowed the Babylonians to take over Israel and almost everyone was sent into exile. A sort of “time out.”
Why did the Israelites keep repeating their old, sinful ways? Why do we do that today? Repeating habits don’t always lead to our destruction, but they can lead to becoming a lukewarm Christian.
Repeats Create Lukewarm Christians
God doesn’t want us to get into any comfort zones. Sameness and routines lead to stagnation. In the world of exercise, it’s called plateauing. In the Bible it’s called being lukewarm. You start by working hard, staying focused, doing all you have to do. But then after a while you get tired, and instead of resting for a short time you push on half-heartedly until you find yourself in a comfort zone where everything is easier and routine and you don’t work so hard any more. This is what being a lukewarm Christian is about. And God doesn’t like it.
“So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” -Revelation 3:16
I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like much fun. I’d rather that not happen to me. The very idea of being vomited out of anyone’s mouth doesn’t sound like a good thing, whether it’s God’s mouth or someone else’s. I’m sure Jonah figured that out. But here’s the point….
If we are lukewarm, not on fire for Christ nor ice cold to Him but somewhere in the middle, we become complacent and God can’t do anything with that. We are all called to share the Gospel in this world and to be servants to each other. We are to be obedient to the Lord and to rejoice in His glory. How can we share the Word if we’re too busy catching up on our favorite TV shows or commiserating with the other PTA moms? How can we do that if we decide that skipping church is okay because football’s on TV (or a televangelist) or your boy has yet another baseball game? How can we do that if the newspaper or your newest ebook take priority over the Bible? How about if the kids take over your morning prayer time?
Anything that pulls us away from God and allows us to only focus on ourselves always leads to sin and disobedience. We are to keep our focus on God and to continually reach out and serve others, and learn all we can about what God says about Himself in His word. If we don’t guard our faith and our devotion to the Lord we could become lukewarm and find ourselves repeating things we used to do before Christ came into our hearts.
God Can Stop the Repetition
The good news is that, like with the Israelites, God will continue to call to you. He always wants you to come back home to Him. However, He may allow an enemy to attack you to get your attention first. So be ready! But I think the better way to go is to just stay on track on God. Make one decision to follow Him and don’t go back on your promise. Either you’re all in or you’re not. There is no middle.
So why not stay close to the Lord, continue in perfecting your faith. Because He is the one who can break your cycle of repeating those things you tried (or maybe still are trying) so hard to stop doing. It is only with His strength and grace that you will rise above the lukewarm waters that try to overtake us. And it is with His great love that you won’t be vomited out.
I don’t know if good old Phil is going to see his shadow or not. But I do know that we can see the Son all we want if we stay close to Him and be diligent in our faith.
“Yet from the days of your fathers you have gone away from My ordinances and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you.” -Malachi 3:7
“Not lagging behind in diligence, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” -Romans 12:11