Respectability is generally a good thing. In fact, when the Bible highlights the essential qualities needed in church leaders, “respectable” makes the short list (1 Timothy 3:12). But while it’s commendable to be respectable, it’s not enough. In fact, when a church settles for respectability it can get into hot water with Jesus. Just ask the folks at the First Church of Laodicea.
The Laodicean church scored high on the respectability scale. Morally, they were upright. Socially, they were upstanding. Financially, they were upscale. As a result, they were quite satisfied with themselves; they didn’t think they needed anything (Revelation 3:17).
There was just one major problem: Jesus wasn’t happy. He saw this church as lacking fervency. He likened them to water that was neither hot nor cold, but only lukewarm. If they remained spiritually tepid, he threatened to spit them out of his mouth (Rev. 3:16).
So why do churches sometimes settle for respectability? Perhaps because it’s easier to be lukewarm than boiling hot. It’s less costly to be half-hearted rather than fully devoted to Christ. Life seems more manageable when Christianity is treated as moderately important. But as C. S. Lewis pointed out, “Christianity, if false is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”
How do churches keep from settling for mere respectability? We take to heart the words Jesus spoke to the lukewarm believers at Laodicea: “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 him and he with me” (Revelation 3:19-20).
Jesus offers spiritual intimacy to believers and churches that keep their spiritual fervency. Let’s not settle for anything less.
(This article is from Dr. Reed’s book, That’s a Good Question Too)