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?
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.