The story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears was always somewhat of a weird, mysterious story for me as a kid. Some random girl (Goldilocks) wanders into a house—not even her house mind you—and sees that some food, in this case porridge, was left out on a table. Goldilocks decides, “Hey, I’m hungry,” and starts eating the porridge. First, she tries eating porridge that is too hot. Then she tries the porridge that’s too cold. Finally, she eats the porridge that is lukewarm, or “just right”, and then feels like sleeping…so she goes and sleeps in one of the family beds. On their bed. In their house.
As it turns out, the three people living in that house are three anthropomorphic bears, and upon hearing their rage of someone breaking into their home and eating their food, she scrambles out of bed, out the window, and is never seen again. What a story.
And for the longest time I was led to believe, even into my adult years, that the moral of the story—besides don’t break into people’s homes and eat their food—was that finding the thing that is, as Goldilocks says, “Just right,” was the goal in life. I was led to believe that lukewarm, not too hot and not too cold, was a great thing. It’s safe. It’s normal. It’s acceptable.
As it turns out though, lukewarm in life is not the temperature we want to be.
Legendary comic illustrator Charles M. Schultz is one of my favorite cartoonists and writers. I grew up opening the newspaper with my mom and dad in the morning, finding the comics section, and demanding they give it to me. Sure, the “Peanuts” comics were funny; the characters had a wit and sarcasm that I couldn’t really find anywhere else (besides Calvin and Hobbes). What really stood out to me though was the intellect he weaved into the characters. The characters had a depth of intelligence that was unique; for kids, they not only made jokes, but they tackled issues and spoke up about important real world matters.
Way back before I was born, in 1952, Schultz put out a strip where Charlie Brown is preparing to play with his friends. One character says, “I’ll be the good guy.” The other says, “I’ll be the bad guy.” The first then asks Charlie Brown, having not answered, “What are you going to be Charlie Brown?” He answers the following:
“I’ll be sort of in-between. I’ll be a hypocrite!”
Let that sink in for a minute.
Charlie Brown is a kid, but he makes a powerful statement. He leads with the idea that being “in-between” is a decision. And that decision then leads him to want to be a hypocrite.
Pretty awesome commentary from a fictional kid, when you think about it.
Even he knows the temperature of “in-between” leads to a bad action.
The Importance of Taking Our Temperatures
What else does good old Charlie Brown being “in-between” indicate? It indicates a lifestyle decision of being lukewarm. By “lukewarm”, I very much do mean a comparison to the temperature. Who likes coffee that isn’t hot, but isn’t cold, and is just “meh”? Who likes someone who shows up to your big, important event, but doesn’t even cheer for you, and when you ask how it was for them they just respond with, “Eh.” At least if the coffee is cold or hot, you feel it. At least if the person hated your event, they thought about it in a way that you could feel and take stock in.
Just as we check the food at a restaurant to see if it’s hot; just as we check our friends to see if they’re hot in anger, we need to evaluate our own temperatures as well. How are we going through our lives?
Now, I’m not saying that we need to be “super hot” about something and do it or believe in it without listening to reasoning or discernment. And I’m also not saying that we need to be so cold and disconnected to someone or something that we refuse it or close our eyes and ears from it.
What I am saying is that we should develop our convictions. We should take a look at what we fight for or what we dislike and measure our hearts to them. We should avoid being lukewarm, because when we are lukewarm in temperature, we have no passion and we don’t know where we stand. In a lukewarm lifestyle, we just as easily can be one thing, and then the other—led astray from a firm belief because there’s no emotion to bind us to it.
Without a grasp on our temperature, we are use-able but easily thrown away; there but never seen; participant but never respected.
God, Goldilocks and You
You know leading a lukewarm kind of life is bad when it’s written in the LAST book of the Bible. The book of Revelation, or as some may call it, “The Book of All the Bad End of the World Stuff”, is that book—it’s the final chapter in a book filled with God’s wonders, miracles, and teachings. And boy is it crazy. There’s certainly a reason why Christ followers tense up and shudder a bit when it’s mentioned, especially in a church sermon—it’s that powerful, that impactful and somewhat intimidating to read.
In Revelation 3, John is having an amazing encounter with Christ. Christ is talking to the churches (different types of followers of Christ from then to today) and their actions, and generally evaluating them. One church, Laodicea, gets this glowing review:
“15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” –Revelation 3:15-16
Goldilocks ate the lukewarm porridge because she wanted to be comfortable and sleep. God eats the lukewarm you, and spits you out. Why? Because he knows the dangers of being too comfortable and not particularly feeling any which way for Him.
When you get too comfortable, you fall asleep like Goldilocks. And when you fall asleep from being lukewarm, you’re falling asleep on Him.
That’s not a good thing; that’s not how He calls us to live. And really, that’s not how any father wants their children to live, either. Fathers want their kids to believe in them as they take care of them and raise them. They want their kids to have ideals and values, so that they can stand on their own someday and feel a certain away about life. At least for my dad, even when we disagree, he knows he has a son that truly feels connected to something and is willing fight for it; that’s independence. And if I succeed at being independent, then my father succeeds at his own goal of raising a son well.
God wants us to stray from a lukewarm lifestyle because He is the Dad. And as the Big Dad, He wants us to succeed and find ourselves so that we can understand how needed He is in our lives, how much He has given us, and how much He seriously loves us.
In order to do that, we need to start really feeling Him. Really start convincing ourselves that lukewarm faith is dangerous faith. We need to take our temperature, and take actions from the heart—not just to do it “for the sake of doing it”.
Living a lukewarm life, whether you believe in God or not, is a terrible way to live. Not only are you relegating yourself to feeling absolutely nothing about any issues, you are also giving yourself opportunities to be the ultimate hypocrite. If you find nothing to pursue, nothing to burn for, or nothing to want to take action for, who can take you at face value? Who can find a reason to say, “I believe in you,” if you don’t even believe in anything yourself?
The world needs people who stray from lukewarm. It’s the people that aren’t complacent who get things done; who make advancements for not only themselves, but others around them. It’s those who fail to fall asleep because they are comfortable from “lukewarm” that succeed, because they don’t cease to act.
Take your temperature. Be discerning. Don’t allow “in-between” to be you’re your main ingredient.
Written by: Michael “Bboy Roach1” Roach