6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: What is so bad about being lukewarm as a Christian? Why it is better to be hot or cold.

Iliff and Saltillo UM Churches

July 18, 2004

“The Church on the Fence--Laodicia”

Rev. 3:14-22

INTRODUCTION: Of the seven churches, this is probably the one you are most familiar with. It is the church that seems to parallel today’s society the most because of an INDIFFERENCE toward spiritual things. The believers at Laodicia had once been fervent for God but at the time of this writing they were described as lukewarm. Sad to say, this church had no COMMENDATION even though its people had many opportunities in their life. The city was a great banking center, and they had much wealth. When the town was destroyed by an earthquake in A.D. 62, the wealthy citizens rebuilt it without asking for any government aid. They had a medical school there, and they manufactured eye salve. The city was also known for beautiful black woolen clothes and wool carpets.

The church was not condemned for having idolatry, false teaching, immorality or any of these things, but they didn’t have any good things to commend them on either because of their lukewarm spiritual condition. They were not troubled by false doctrines and didn’t suffer any persecution. You might only remember the verse where they were told, “Because you are neither cold nor hot I will spew they out of my mouth.” There is a lot more contained in these verses than that. Let’s take a look at this church and see how it applies to us.

1. The problem pointed out in terms they could understand--Although these people thought they were self sufficient and had need of nothing materially, this was not quite the case. One great problem was their water supply. They had a poor water supply and had to bring it 6 miles through an aquaduct from Colosse (cold water) and the hot water from the north where there were hot springs. But in either case by the time it got to them it was lukewarm. At feasts either cold or hot drinks were served--NEVER LUKEWARM. They could easily relate to the idea of lukewarm water and once again John uses a situation they were very familiar with to point out their spiritual problems. Physicans used lukewarm water to cause vomiting so that also was something they could understand.

This letter comes from Jesus who appears as “the AMEN, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.” In each letter He appeared to them in a way they could relate to Him--the Amen--the finality or the last word--the final authority on it. The faithful and true--firm, established, true (Isaiah 65:16--the God of truth).

Then He says, “I know your deeds that you are neither cold nor hot.” He had their attention because they could relate to the terrible lukewarm water they had to drink. He says, “I wish you were either cold or hot.” Why would he say this? Cold? Why would that be preferable to lukewarm?

(1) Cold is not necessarily bad--a cold refreshing glass of water or ice tea or an icy cold glass of milk--NOT LUKEWARM

But also COLD Spiritually would have advantages over lukewarm because a person who is COLD would recognize their need more than the self-satisfied lukewarm and indifferent person. The church had ceased to be a refreshing cold drink of water to anyone and didn’t stand for anything. They were as distasteful as a glass of lukewarm water. Their indifference had caused them to become idle, hardened and self satisfied. The worse thing about a half hearted Christian is that they are not easily moved one way or another. Just SITTIN on the FENCE and not useful or productive. Don’t even recognize their need of anything. There is more hope for the cold person because that person can realize the need for warmth. These people have been within reach of a holy fire without being kindled into fervor.

Romans 12:11 says, “be fervent in spirit.” Are you fervent in your Christianity? Are you taking it seriously?

Jesus is saying to them and to us today, “I wish you were cold or hot--take me SERIOUSLY.” The Laodician’s were no longer taking their Christianity seriously.

STORY: They were like the man who had a license plate on his new Mercedes that spelled GENERIC. Someone was following him and wondered why in the world would anyone put GENERIC on a new Mercedes. So he followed the Mercedes to see if he could talk to the driver. He went through a car wash and he followed him in. When he got out, the man went up to the driver and said, “Why would you want GENERIC on your license plate?”

The man said, “Well, I’m a Christian but I don’t want people to think I’m a particular BRAND OF CHRISTIAN--I’m not a Baptist or a Pentecostal or a Methodist--I’m just a GENERIC Christian.”

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