Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Thermometers or Thermostats?

“I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” Revelation 3: 15-16

Do you have a thermometer at your house? Not the kind you stick under tongues or armpits (or in other places), but the kind that attaches to the outside of your window or hooks to a post on a porch? I know my other-in-law loves them. Despite the fact that she watches the news, reads the paper and can tune-in to the Weather Channel at any time, she still wants to be able to look outside her window or door and see for herself whether it is hot or cold outside.

How does a thermometer work? Basically the mercury in the bottom rises or falls based on the air temperature around it and it simply reflects its surroundings. Or in other words, it changes based on what is going on around it.

By contrast I’m sure you have a thermostat in your house as well. It might be digital now and not the old fashioned turn dial kind (although I have both in my house) but they both do the same thing. How does it work? Basically, the thermostat has a thermometer inside to gauge the air temperature around it, but in addition, it also works to change the air temperature when it goes above or below an acceptable level. In other words, a thermostat actually affects change to its surroundings.

How does this apply to our spiritual lives? Well, all of us live in a culture. Culture is made up of the arts, movies, entertainment, music, newspapers, advertising, etc. And Pope John Paul II once said that culture is the most powerful thing on earth—not economics, not politics, not armies, but culture. And the reality we must face is that our culture is not Christian any longer. It may not be as bad in America as in Europe, but each day our culture becomes more and more secular and anti-Christian. So as a Christian living in a secular, often hostile culture, which are you: a thermometer who is influenced by our culture and who reflects our culture to others, or a thermostat who seeks to change our culture?

All of us are called in our own specific ways to be agents of change in our culture today. For too long we have allowed those in power to tell us that we can have the freedom to practice our religion as long as it is stays in our homes and our Churches. We have remained lukewarm about too many things. So how do we become thermostats in our culture instead of thermometers? First of all we pray for the grace. The thermostat doesn’t change the air temperature with its own power, but with the power of the furnace. God’s grace is the power. Secondly, we love. Love God and love our neighbors. Third, we do our daily duties with joy and for the glory of God and not ourselves. In other words, we authentically and passionately follow Jesus, not just at youth group or with our families, but at school, at work, with our friends, playing sports, etc. God has given all of us gifts and talents. Let’s use them to change our culture. It’s not about being in someone’s face with our beliefs, but about getting into their heart. One person at a time—each day. And we will be thermostats of positive change in our culture.

Dear Jesus, give me the grace to be a thermostat in our culture today. Help me to be more than just a reflection of my surroundings, but an agent of change that through Your grace and my efforts, I may help build a culture of life and a civilization of love in our world. Amen.

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