Hot, Cold or Lukewarm in the Marketplace?

The speaker (Pat Gelsinger) was a marketplace leader who responded to the clarion call in his youth to step fully into his Christian faith: to be neither cold or worse, lukewarm, but to be hot for God. 

lukewarmThere’s a strong and troubling passage in the early chapters of the Book of Revelation:  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.” – Revelation 3:15-16.  In the first three chapters of John’s apocalyptic vision, Christ gives specific messages to 7 real first century churches. This word is directed to the church in the city of Laodicea.

This is a harsh rebuke of a regional church body (located then in what  is modern-day Turkey). The other churches at least get some degree of commendation from Christ; Laodicea receives only strong condemnation:  “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” – Revelation 3:17.

The graphic reference to Christ spitting or vomiting was cited in the opening comments at a recent gathering of 650 business people at last week’s Annual Silicon Valley Prayer Breakfast. The speaker was a marketplace leader whose context was this verse being the clarion call for him in his youth to step fully into his Christian faith:  to be neither cold or worse, lukewarm, but to be hot for God.”

As the CEO of VMware, one of the largest technology companies in California, Pat Gelsinger’s comments, highlighted from his book, The Juggling Act,  are wise and inspiring for anyone operating in the marketplace today.

Hot Christianity
There is an assumption that hot, fired up Christians are obnoxious and embarrassing. The image of the guy with a bullhorn on a street corner may come to mind, or that person we’ve all encountered who was a bit over the top. By the way, Paul the Apostle and John the Baptist were this type so be careful with caricatures. But they were true to their calling and purpose. In Gelsinger’s case, the story of rural farm boy to marketplace leader is a testimony of impressive talent and giftings harnessed and directed by God combined with wholesale commitment to a life of right priorities.

The blueprint is for all of us. Though not without daunting peaks and valleys, the Christian life-path is ripe and rich with blessings, purpose and fruit.

Here are 3 major keys that Gelsinger discussed related to being hot for God and effective in life and in the marketplace:

1. Prioritizing God – With purposeful discipline, Pat established a mission statement: “I will be a Christian husband, family man, and businessman. I will use every resource God provides me to carry out his work on earth as set forth in (specified Biblical values and personal goals).” Many do this casually. Pat made a decision early in his marketplace/career days to set his sights purposely on God in spite of busy and heady distractions.

The choice to be hot rather than cold is easy – it’s being lukewarm that will kill you. Prioritizing God with overarching and specific purpose and direction is fundamental.

2. Prioritizing Family – With 4 children and a demanding job, Pat proactively set aside time with individual children, his wife and for the whole family. Easy stuff. But not really. It’s a purposeful thing that many in the marketplace will let slip and then slide. The results are insidious and show up later in broken relationships and even divorce.

The prioritization of family goes beyond love and familial obligation. It is intimately tied to one’s response to the call of their Savior to be a follower of Him and fulfill the duty and purpose of their life, progeny and legacy.

3. Developing Mentors – As a gifted young engineer Pat was approached by Intel’s Andy Grove and developed a mentoring relationship that’s lasted over the years. As a Christian needs a Paul or Barnabas to help coach and assist, we need work mentors to challenge us in the marketplace. Full maturity maintains mentoring relationships and reaches downward to help those on the rise.

Christianity is no excuse for not being excellent in one’s work. Our faith and work should grow through stages of apprenticeship, journeyman, and master (full maturity).

Life/Marketplace Apathy
The knock on the people of Laodicea was not their Christian belief. It was their Christian priorities. As a center for trade and commerce the people no doubt were prosperous, rich even, and self-sufficient. Christianity and material wealth could make for easy living. But the risk is apathy, being tepid or lukewarm, ambivalent to spiritual things beyond the basics.

Reminds me of the Silicon Valley, or any major center of business and commerce. It’s easy to appear to “have it all” – particularly as affluent Christians – but be spiritually light (or dead) and choked with sin, confusion, insecurity, pain, and generally lost.

Jesus rebukes the Laodiceans and would even “spit them out,” as the people would spit out the tepid water that flowed from the underground aqueducts to their city. With their distractions came apathy and spiritual blindness, claiming to be followers but actually self-deceived hypocrites. Like us today operating in the marketplace (for definition see 6/8/13 post “Layman” in the Marketplace), the call is for repentance from sin and freedom from our blindness to intimacy with Christ.

The good news is that there is hope for the rebuked and disciplined (Revelation 3:19-20). Therefore all of us should be encouraged to step anew into our faith, spiritually hot for the life before us in all that we do and encounter.

Are you operating in life and in the marketplace beyond the basics? Are you lukewarm?  _______________________________
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” – Revelation 3:19-20

Categories: Abundant Living, Calling, Devotion, Faith, Jesus, Marketplace, Theology

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