Summary: A warning that comes from God when we become lukewarm
14 "To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 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.
This letter sent by Jesus through the apostle John to the church at Laodicea is one of the most arresting proclamations that ever came from Christ lips.
One cannot read this passage without being stirred for its words are so gripping that it should startle us as much as the tornado sirens did last Tuesday evening!
Listen to this passage from the Message; – it says “I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You’re not cold; you’re not hot – far better to be either cold or hot! You’re stale. You’re stagnant. You make me want to vomit.”
There is an emotion used by Christ in these words that I believe is not used anywhere else in the entire word of God.
Oh yes there are times throughout scripture when Christ is represented as being grieved. There are even times when Christ is seen as being angry, but in this passage of scripture we see him as being genuinely disgusted.
He is not just a little upset but rather he is so upset that he becomes literally nauseated.
Just who is it that Jesus is addressing here in this passage of Scripture?
This is not some daring rude out and out sinner...this is not a decree to a murderer pr the town drunk, or even the prostitute down on the street corner…
No the alarming element of this passage is that we find him addressing the church.
He is writing to a group of people who have organized under the banner of being a force for God. No doubt at one time this was a group of Christ followers whose sole purpose was to see their town won to Christ…their mission was heart felt…they knew where they were headed…but tragically something has gone wrong….Christ is addressing this letter to people who call themselves “Christians”
If you study this church very long you will also find that they pride themselves on not just being Christians, but being a superior grade of Christians.
Yet sadly when Christ addresses them he has not one good word to say about them.
What was wrong do you suppose? Was it the town itself…was this another Sodom…? Had something gone wrong in the town that would disgrace the church?
I did some research on Laodicea this week and found that it was located about one hundred miles due east of Ephesus.
It was in a fertile valley along with Colosse and Hierapolis. And the great Roman road stretching to the inland of Asia from the coast at Ephesus ran straight through its center. This made Laodicea an important center of trade and communication.
Laodicea was actually known for 3 things.
1) It was known firstly for its wealth. It was the financial and banking center of the whole region and had money to burn. So wealthy was Laodicea that after the great earthquake of A.D. 17, which destroyed it, the people refused imperial help in rebuilding the city, choosing rather to do it entirely by themselves.
It would be like New Orleans refusing government aid after Katrina and replacing all the buildings and infrastructure itself. It was rich and had no need of any help.
2) Much of its wealth came from the production of a fine quality of famous glossy black wool which would be exported throughout the known world.
3) It was also famous for its school of medicine and particularly for a special eye ointment. This was famous for its ability to cure of eye defects but for all its fame, Laodicea was also known for something else.
Its horrible water supply. Despite its wealth, it did not have a local water supply sufficient to provide for its population and so an aqueduct was built to bring water from hot springs 6 miles away. On its journey overland to Laodicea, it cooled until it was lukewarm when it arrived. Remember this because it takes on significance later.
So other than some water problems it sort of sounded like a fairly decent place to live and raise a family…
So we can determine that it wasn’t a geographic problem, it wasn’t a slumping economy that was the problem…no friend…plain and simple this was a “spiritual problem.”
Some where in the structure of that once booming church down on the corner, somehow that church with a vision…had gone awry…
Let me hasten to add no where does he fault them for their organization….I find no complaints even about their doctrine…But rather his gut wrenching disgust comes from their “Half hearted limp commitment”