Summary: A look at the lukewarm church of Laodicea. Are we a lukewarm church?
A Lukewarm Church
A young woman went to her preacher and said, "Preacher, I have a besetting sin, and I want your help. I come to church on Sunday and can’t help thinking I’m the prettiest girl in the congregation. I know I ought not think that, but I can’t help it. I want you to help me with it." The preacher replied, "Mary, don’t worry about it. In your case it’s not a sin. It’s just a horrible mistake."
Sometimes things are not how they seem or how we think they are. Sometimes I wonder if we do not really think we are better than we are. Perhaps we look at our lives through rose colored glasses and fail to see the faults that we may have. Perhaps we have deceived ourselves into thinking we are some sort of super saints, but in reality we are barely hanging on spiritually. It is important for us to regularly and honestly look at ourselves and see where we stand. That is why I want to ask you, what type of Church is this? What type of Christian are you?
In Revelation two and three, seven different churches are addressed. In those addresses some of them are harshly criticised for their shortcomings. I wonder if we were to receive a letter addreessed to us what would it say? Perhaps our faithfulness would be questioned? Perhaps we would be rebuked for something that we have ngeclted doing that we should be doing. What would the letter say to you? What sins would be confronted? What areas that have been negelcted would be brought out into the open? What areas would you be commended for?
In Revelation 3, we come to the address to the lukewarm church of Laodicea. I wonder if we will find any similarities between us and the church at Laodicea.
Text: Revelation 3:14-22
I. The Problem
The problem with the church at Laodicea was that they were lukewarm. The city of Laodicea sat in between the cities of Hierapolis. That area was known for their springs. The city of Hierapolis which was only six miles from Laodicea was known for its hot waters. People from distant regions came to soak in warm baths and seek healing for arthritis, skin diseases, and even abdominal problems. Literally, millions of people came to soothe themselves in the naturally hot waters of Hierapolis. On the contrast the city of Colosse was known for its cold waters. People in the fertile Lycus River Valley commonly talked about this wonderful, invigorating water of Colosse.
During the first century Laodicea was the richest and most prominent of those three cities and one of the richest in the world. Despite its prosperity, however, Laodicea had a serious problem. Its water, unlike the healing hot springs of Hierapolis or the fresh, cold mountain water of Colosse was lukewarm and full of minerals. It tasted so bad that it made people sick. In fact, it became a joke in the first century world about the nasty tasting lukewarm water of Laodicea.
Jesus may have been saying to the church at Laodicea, if you were hot, like the springs of Hierapolis, you would bring spiritual healing, restoration, and comfort to people who suffer. If you were cold, like the water in Colosse, you would refresh and encourage people who are hurting. Instead, you are lukewarm. You don’t do anyone any good and you make me sick just like your own water makes you sick.
Have you ever taken a sip of lukewarm water? Usually, lukewarm is not a good temperature. We like it either hot or cold. We like our drinks either hot or cold, but lukewarm is sickening. We want hot showers and cold refreshing drinks. You never hear anyone say, “I am burning up; I would love a nice glass of lukewarm water”. You never hear anyone say, “I am tired and aching, I would love to take a lukewarm bath.” The picture of likewarm is a picture of something that has no use at all. The Laodicean Christians were lukewarm, they were apathetic, and they were good for nothing.
Most of the time people take that passage and say that hot is for God, cold is against God and lukewarm is apathetic. There is a sense in which that is ture. However, perhaps he is saying cold is good, hot is good and lukewarm is apathetic. You see, the cold water of Colosse was great and refreshing. The warm waters of Hierapolis were soothing. They both had a use, but the lukewarm waters of Laodicea were good for nothing. Perhaps the message Jesus is conveying is for the Laodicean Christians to have a use, to be good for something. Perhaps that is why Jesus says I wish you were either hot or cold. He isn’t saying I would rather have you be totally against me than simply lukewarm, he is saying I wish you were good for something either cold and refreshing or hot and healing.