Summary: A look into the Church at Laodicea to help us measure our own spiritual temperature
Intro: Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
Many people have heard those words from Jesus. They’re actually to His Church. Jesus, is at the door, waiting to come in and have dinner with you! He did it at Zacchaeus’ house. He did it at Matthew’s House. He did it at Mary, Martha, and Lazarus’ house. He did at Simon the Pharisee’s house.
What a Thanksgiving this would be if we would just open the door and invite Jesus in for lunch with us! So, if you knew Jesus was coming for lunch, what would you serve? Specifically, what drinks would you have? Probably not tepid tea and coffee. Most of what we drink is best if it’s chilled or if it’s hot. In fact, if coffee’s been sitting around long enough that it’s just kind of medium, that’s reason enough, for most people, to throw it out. That’s what the 3:16 we’re looking at today deals with. It’s Jesus’ message to the Church in the city of Laodicea where He says,
I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
The first 3 chapters of Revelation contain messages to the Christians in 7 different cities in what is modern Turkey - Asia Minor. Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea.
These are real places, a part of real history, and there were real people who were Christ-followers there during the 1st century AD.
Jesus had individual messages for the churches in each city - compliments, encouragements, and warnings for people who were encountering pressure under an increasingly harsh government. Once Christianity ceased to be viewed by Rome as a Jewish sect, Christians were pressured to worship the emperor. We’re looking only at #7 - Laodicea. There isn’t one compliment to the Church there. Instead, there’s a description by Jesus that resonates with a lot of people, because it seems to represent very well what Jesus might say to the Church of 2019, in cities just like Rockford, IL.
“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”
Lukewarm. Not cold like a refreshing lemonade on a sweltering summer day. Not hot, like a hot chocolate on a chilly winter night. Just lukewarm.
Remember this scene from the movie “War Room”?
(Play video - 1:45)
Lukewarm. The water supply for Laodicea was piped from 2 sources - Hierapolis, 6 miles to the north, and Colossae, 10 miles to the southeast. Hierapolis had hot springs, and that water started out hot. The water of Colossae came from freshwater springs. It started out cool. And by the time they both reached Laodicea, they were just like water that you find sitting in a summer hose. On top of the temperature issues, it picked up a lot of minerals that also made it taste bad. Yech.
Jesus said there is something about the Christians of Laodicea that made them like a mouthful of grossness; the kind were you spew it out all over the place.
I’ve read a lot of ideas about what it means to say someone is “lukewarm” in their faith. Here’s what I think explains it best. The Christ followers of Laodicea had become a reflection of their culture, rather than being the shapers of their culture.
Look at v17 … Revelation 3:17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
The citizens of Laodicea would have been people to say these very things about themselves. The city had become a banking center, proud of their wealth. The ruins of Laodicea show it had significant structures, including a huge stadium, even though it wasn’t a very big city. A major earthquake damaged it in the year 60 AD, and when the Roman government offered them disaster relief, the city refused it. They paid for it themselves.
Laodicea had a medical school, and it was known for, among other things, an eye medicine they produced.
There was also a significant textile production, made from the wool of a specific black sheep unique to the area. These were the boasts of Laodicea, but when it came to the real spiritual condition of the Christians there, everything that the city had confidence in outwardly was where the Christians were lacking spiritually. “…you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” They needed from the Lord what only the Lord could give them - true wealth, the white robe of righteousness, and healing for their eyes.