Lateral Shuffle

0104. Stagnant with God

In sports training, there is a drill called a lateral shuffle where the athletes start by running in place with their feet wide apart. Then the coach yells one of four things spontaneously: forward, left, right, or back. The athletes must react quickly and move in the correct direction. In many ways, this drill can also demonstrate our relationship with God. Are we moving forward, moving laterally, staying in place, or backsliding in our relationship with God? Obviously moving forward is the correct direction we desire, but is moving further away from God the worst outcome? The answer might surprise you.

In Revelation 3:14-16 (NIV), John writes to the church in Laodicea regarding their behavior: “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” What does this scripture tell us about our relationship with God?

During Jesus’ ministry, he worked with a lot of sinners, many of whom became his disciples. Therefore, we know that God can work with those who are far away in their relationship with him. If he can reach these individuals, then he will have recovered a lost sheep (Luke 15:3-7). If not, then the individual will suffer two deaths, both physical and spiritual (Revelation 20:11-15). In either case, the outcome is well-defined.

On the other end of the spectrum, those believers who put God first in their hearts will have many blessings bestowed on them as many verses in the Bible confirm. Through prayer, studying the word of God, and finding community with other brothers and sisters in Christ, we come closer to God. Once again, the outcome is clear.

Where it gets murky is if our relationship with God is between these two ends of the spectrum. We attend church on Christmas and Easter, but do not pray much or at all. We believe the Bible has good things to say, but are disobedient to what the Bible commands us to do. We say we are Christian, then support actions, lifestyles, and policies that are in direct conflict with what Jesus teaches us. This is the definition of lukewarm in the verse above, and God does not really know what to do with us, although he warns us that he will reject us (spit us out) if we cannot clearly figure out who we are in relation to him.

Therefore, a stagnant relationship with God can sometimes be as bad as, or worse than backsliding. Everyday we should be striving to only be moving forward with God and not become complacent in our relationship with him. Ponder that this week.

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