Summary: Letter to the Church at Laodicea
Dear Half Hearted
Jeremiah 29:10-14 Deut. 4:29 Rev. 3:14-22
Clip--War Room clip of Lukewarm
Who likes lukewarm coffee? I mean, who likes lukewarm anything or half-hearted anything. When Jesus calls these Christians lukewarm, He’s saying that their love, their discipleship, their devotion is half-hearted at best. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t think any of us are excited about half-hearted people. If you were an employer, would you want an employee who is only half-hearted? No. If you go to the dentist, do you want a hygienist who’s half-hearted about washing her hands? Probably not. If you were needing heart surgery, would you want a surgeon who is lukewarm about her profession or half-hearted in their skills? No. If you were a soldier, would you want the soldiers all around you to be fully committed or half-hearted? And if you are thinking about marriage, do you want a partner who is “all in”, ready to risk it all, and is passionate about you and completely committed…or would you want someone who is lukewarm about their feelings towards you and half-hearted in their commitment to you? When you call 911, do you want a lifeguard or fireman who is half hearted about saving lives or someone who is selfless and passionate about saving lives?
To think about it another way, would you want a Savior who is half-hearted about you? Or would you want a Savior who is willing to go to hell and back to rescue you? Someone who would do whatever it takes, even if it meant dying on a cross? Well, in this letter, Jesus is saying that He’s not willing to accept a lukewarm love or a half-hearted commitment from this Bride.
Last week we read the letter to the church in Philadelphia for which Jesus has no criticism, just praise. The opposite is true of the church in Laodicea. It’s the only letter with nothing good to say about the church. In fact, the church receives the harshest criticism of all the churches, not because of anything specific that they’ve done or failed to do. The church is criticized for doing things half-heartedly. They have no passion, no burning love, no vitality, no vision, and no spirit. The heart monitor on this particular body of Christ barely showed a pulse.
Reminds me of the preacher who was preaching one Sunday and a visitor had come that day. Well, the preacher said something that struck a chord with this visitor and he shouted, AMEN! Immediately, every head snapped around to see who was making such an interruption. After the shock wore off, the preacher continued and again said something that touched the man and he gave an enthusiastic PRAISE THE LORD! Again, everything stopped for a moment and people looked around in disbelief. Finally the preacher continued and after a few minutes, said something else that moved the visitor and he shouted out HALLELEUJIA! The head usher could see the people were uneasy and that the preacher was clearly distressed so he asked the visitor what all the shouting was about. The man replied, “I couldn’t help it, I’m filled with the Holy Spirit”. To which the usher responded, “Well you didn’t get it here, so keep quiet.”
I don’t know what denomination the church at Laodicea was but it was an established church, it had been around for a while and it was a comfortable and respected church, but the people had grown complacent in their faith….lackadaisical, not too serious. They had lost the excitement of following Jesus. These Christians were really half-hearted about their faith. In some ways, they suffered the same condition as the Christians at Ephesus; they kind of forgot their first love. Oh, they were Christians, they believed in God…but their hearts sure weren’t in it. One of the most powerful sermons John Wesley ever preached is titled the “Almost Christian”, in which he speaks of people who claim the title Christian and sometimes say Christian sounding stuff and even do good things from time to time but their heart just isn’t in it. And Wesley says that they are “Almost Christians”, but that to be almost saved is to be totally lost; that Christ wants the whole heart and the whole person—He wants us to be passionate about Him as He is passionate about us. Speaking of passion, Wesley also said, “Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on Earth”. So, this letter from Jesus to His Bride is a mini-tract on salvation, written to half-hearted and half-converted Christians…and in it He does three things: