Once again, our author tells us: “This is Christ speaking.” And as before, we have to decide whether this really sounds like Christ–to consider what his words mean and whether they match our understanding of Christ’s nature. However we may decide, this should clarify our understanding of what “Christ” means.
“Since you are neither hot nor cold…”–This sounds like Jesus speaking in a royal capacity, but I have not been able to find it in the gospels, not even Luke, even by searching online. I could imagine him saying it in his earthly life, pleading for human support and never receiving what was needed–but the saying, despite the word “lukewarm,” simply isn’t in there.
So. Christ or Accuser? Do these spirits resemble each another that much?–or do they simply express one divine nature in different ways?–Or maybe we’re prone to confuse two fundamentally different spirits?
We like love that refuses to condemn us–but we don’t remain content with indiscriminate love. It sounds too much like “blind” love, the sort we typically send back, marked “Addresee unknown, not here–Return to sender.”
This speaker says “I reprove and train those I love.” That’s a scarey sort of love. It isn’t just the potential S&M sound of it we fear; this sort of love could give us a chisel and a big block of marble and tell us: “Go for it!”
Coming from earthly parents, such expectations can aim a kid up the wrong mountain, make him run off to sea instead. What if our statue of “David” comes out like Donald Duck?
Churches hold up divine virtues for our inspiration; then they bring out refreshments and send us home. Friends meetings do it silently–but we have our refreshments and return home much like the others. If we read our history, we learn that Friends were supposed to be different from the world’s churches. But I meet God-connected people from a wide variety of religions, while a whole lot of Friends are merely churchgoers, and content to remain that way. (I’ve recently written at length on all that–and as a friend suggested, broken it into several parts; see http://sneezingflower.blogspot.com/)
This (for whatever church) is what it means to think “[you’ve] made a fortune” and still be wretchedly poor in the kind of wealth that matters. This church is the wretched one (as Sweet’s commentary puts it): “because of your claim to be rich… not that riches in themselves disqualify, but in biblical idiom ‘rich’ connotes trusting in riches; ‘poor’ connotes trusting in God.” (Only that trust would make the true wealth possible.)
We seem to trust in letter-writing, organizing skill, and the [tacit] Testimony of Prudence. Not the same thing.
Denial, nonjudgementalism, and charitable thinking are epidemic among us. We’re afraid that the Spirit, if it ever broke loose, might march us through the thistles and who knows what? So we sit and wait for God (but only for an hour) and go home relieved. Neither hot nor cold.
All we lack is “Christ,” who remains willing, even eager, to come to us. The “evangelicals” are right, you know, except that we (and they) get hung up on the word “Christ” rather than on the reality called “Christ.” We’re all somewhat afraid, I think, of what that reality might reveal and demand of us.
What does it mean, to “open that door.” Who opens, from inside or out, and whose place is this, anyway? Have I really opened it?–or does this really mean: “Keep opening it.”