Today I found and read thoroughly through my grade 8 final report card, line-by-line. “Natashia” it begins, in one of the few commentary sections of the three-page document. There it was, my name, my grades (for every single course taken that year), my class average, and of course, the number of days I was late or absent from school.
Nearly 20 years ago and it now intrigued me more than ever before. Reading through teacher comments and advice to me and, (consequently my mom), of what I needed to focus on more to understand, develop and refine growth in the education of such intelligence, such as, the sciences and mathematics, reading and writing, and so forth.
As I looked at my overall student average, I could see clearly it was average indeed, that is, to the class average. Most of us did fine, okay. Satisfactory, is what they named it. I have since changed, thankfully. But as a looked at my grade 8 marks, I smiled at some, stared wide-eyed at others, while glancing over most – the more abundant average ones.
What is it about average? It’s not failing, though it’s certainly not excelling. Most the class was average in their grades that year – our graduating year. Cleary the marks I smiled at were above average. I excelled. I went over and beyond satisfactory! I did well. Very well.
The wide-eyed grades, well, they were below the class average. Way below. Yet still I spent much more time thinking on the one or two, than the satisfactory ones.
Later on having tucked away my report card so I can ‘discover’ it another 20 years from now, Christ willing, I picked up my bible and began reading in Matthew chapter 5.
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
Soon after, I began thinking about that report card and then of the fruits of the Holy Spirit – love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, kindness, self-control, meekness, and faith. Finally, I spoke softly, “Holy Spirit, I wonder what grade you would give me in these “subjects” – areas of your teachings.” I sat, stayed quiet. Then, I began to write this note – blog.
Could the ails of being satisfactory be likened to that of lukewarm? In the book of Revelation, Jesus commands John to write to the seven churches. Through the letters to the churches, we read passages where the Lord is pleased and not pleased with attitudes and lifestyles and practices that are either right before God or evil before God. He warns and beckons “repent.” And, He encourages, “I know your works, and charity, and service, and faith, and your patience, and your works; and the last to be more than the first…”
Why would God say in Revelation 3:15, that He would prefer that they (the people of the church in Laodicea) were cold OR hot? With the understanding that, to be hot is to be as we say – on fire for God – meaning of course, being spiritually fervent and filled with His Spirit, walking after His ways willingly and devotedly by His sufficient grace and everlasting mercies. To be hot is obviously the mark, but why then does Christ also makes mention of being cold rather than lukewarm…if you’re not hot?
Well, to be cold is to know that you are at opposite ends of hot. Not even close, and far from it – which is good, evidently. You see, the soul that is turned from God and knows it, might turn to God, but the soul that is turned from God and does not know it, or believe it, cannot ever turn to God. The lukewarm soul – the person who is turned at some angle(s) away from Almighty God, is not fully surrendered to God. That person or perhaps you, continue living this life believing that you “…love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength,” yet all actually means all and not some. Hot is hot – fully. Cold is cold – fully. But, and this is the BIG BUT, lukewarm isn’t hot and, it isn’t cold.
Beloved, if you, like me, need to and will to pray, pray.
Search me Lord. Evaluate me. Judge me and tell me what You find. For You only are able to judge righteously and You only can see my heart and know its thoughts entirely. And then Lord reveal to me what in me and of me pleases You, what I must continue doing in Your grace and truth and also Lord, reveal to me what I must turn away from. I pray this in Your name that is above every name ever named, Jesus. Amen.
And now may the Good Shepherd give to you and I, ears to hear what the Spirit will say.