When I was reading in my devotional book by Dr. David Jeremiah I saw the heading for the current day, which read, “Bland Believers.” It was from a text in the Old Testament found in Zephaniah 1:12, “And it shall come to pass at that time that I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and punish the men who are settled in complacency, who say in their heart, ‘The Lord will not do good, nor will He do evil.’”
That hit me hard. I thought, “This doesn’t sound good at all.” At this point, Dr. Jeremiah made these statements: “Have you ever sipped yesterday’s coffee? Have you ever slurped ‘warm’ ice cream? Both are tepid, (which means they both taste Yuk!).” Actually, the proper word is “lukewarm,” and anything lukewarm definitely causes low “E” (enthusiasm or expectations).
Whether it’s lukewarm coffee, or melted ice cream, neither one tastes the way they should, and they disappoint us because they do not taste the way we expected. At this point my thoughts went to the Bible where, in Revelation 3:14ff, the church of Laodicea came under condemnation from Jesus. It says in verse 16, “So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot or cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” They had become Bland Believers! No doubt, they started their Christianity with great excitement and enthusiasm, but now, all that the Lord could see was low “E,” or low enthusiasm and low expectations from their faith in God.
How is it with us today? Have we lowered our expectations and lost enthusiasm because our prayers didn’t get answered in the way we thought they would? Have we become, Bland Believers? Ironically, for the church in Laodicea, it was their prosperity that brought-on part of their problem. God had blessed them greatly, and as a result, their dependence upon Him had dwindled! Their devotion to Him had dried up! The enemy of our soul knows that either prosperity or poverty can be a snare to God’s people.
When a Church becomes merely a social club, it has indeed become “Bland.” Why do we attend Church? Isn’t it to give God praise and thanksgiving, as well as to listen to a “word” that He has placed into the heart of the pastor? If we are showing-up to show off our latest clothes, trinkets, or stuff in general, we have definitely become the type of Church that makes the Lord’s stomach turn. No doubt Jesus is reaching for the Tums, or some other stomach acid reducer.
From the days of the prophet Zephaniah to now, mankind hasn’t really changed much. For that matter, God’s message to people hasn’t changed much either. Repent is still the message to the Bland Believer, or to the Non-Believer as well.
“The First Church of the Bland Believers” is neither believable nor desirable to the Lord, or to our society. Like yesterday’s coffee, the appeal is gone because the freshness has been lost.
How can believers go from being Bland to Believable? I do not have all of the answers, but I am sure we can start with a renewal of our commitment to Christ on a personal level. Then a person could progress to a regular Bible reading schedule and prayer time with the Lord.
God’s Word produces expectation, which gives way to enthusiasm as we see prayers answered. Joy enters our life again, and it spreads fast because it’s very contagious. Cap this off with regular church attendance and “Bland Believer” will never be your label.
Allen Whittenburg is pastor of the Abundant Life Tabernacle in Exeter. Prays Together is a rotating faith-based commentary and advice column among the pastors, and guest laypeople, of area churches.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.