Summary: Christians face a strong temptation to be dispassionate, lukeward in their Christian service; Christ promises the victor’s crown to those who are steadfast.


Laodicea: the Lukewarm Church


Translations of quotes from other languages, other times, and other cultures often do not work well. A person from another country gave advice on prayer petitions. He included a line that some inept translator parsed thusly: “Pray that you do not live in interesting times.”

What the person with another language intended was “Pray that you not be tested by persecution. Pray that you not have to suffer for your faith.”

Even our often repeated Lord’s Prayer has this anemic translation, “Lead us not into temptation.” Jesus didn’t say that. Jesus said, “Don’t lead us to the place of trial and testing of faith. Don’t lead us to the cross. . . .deliver us from evil.”

Forseeing the day when the walls of Jerusalem would be broken down by the Roman engines of war Jesus advised his followers, “Pray that your flight does not come in the winter. . . . .woe to the pregnant women and women with children in those days.”

That was a prayer that his disciples not be led to a severe place of testing.

On the eve of his crucifixion Jesus prayed in agony, “Father, take this cup from me.”

IN our devotion, we forget the humanity of Jesus. One thing that we can say of Jesus, He lived in interesting times; times that tested character, times that tried men’s souls.

"Blessed are the Lukewarm." That is the title of an article I clipped a couple of years ago.

"Blessed are the Lukewarm." That is the approach the world takes to religion and faith in God and Jesus. That is the approach the church of Laodicea took. If you don’t take Christ too seriously, you can have your faith and religion but don’t actually practice it; don’t actually believe it; don’t actually be excited about it. "Blessed are the Lukewarm."

"Blessed are the Lukewarm." The devil and the world wants our religion and faith to be lukewarm because then we don’t create problems. Then we don’t take a stand against abortion or sexual immorality. Then we don’t take a stand against emperor worship or participation in pagan feasts or theological heresies. Then we don’t take a stand for the authority of Scripture.

We have to be on watch, on guard, that ours is not a lukewarm faith and religion. I think Anglicans, in their search for the middle way, attempt to avoid controversy and hence are particularly susceptible to being lukewarm.

We are here because we were raised in the faith and are surrounded by the faith. We have devotions every single day. We have Bibles and devotional material. We attend church on Sunday. All of this can be a sign of real commitment and devotion. But we can have all of this and still be lukewarm. We have so much that we don’t get excited about our faith. Maybe we are just going through the motions at worship.. Maybe we rarely or never have private devotions. We may have become like the King in Shakespeare’s play who confessed, “My prayers go up, but my thoughts remain below. Prayers without thought never to heaven go.” Are we excited enough by our faith to be involved, to think and act on our prayers?

"Blessed are the Lukewarm." I want you to notice that is not what Jesus says.

I The Letter’s Introduction

This letter starts with "to the angel of the church ..." and ends with "... what the Spirit says to the churches." Like all the letters, it is meant for a local church in Asia Minor, it is meant for all the churches of Asia Minor, and it is meant for all churches of all times and all places. This letter, in other words, is meant for us as well.

The letter in front of us as written to the church in Laodicea.. Note of two features of the city. Laodicea was rich and prosperous. When in A.D. 60 an earthquake destroyed the city, Laodicea asked no financial aid from Rome. The wealthy citizens rebuilt their city. Laodicea had three sources of wealth: a banking center; its soft, raven-black wool, and it had a famous school of medicine that developed a cream for curing eye diseases.

The second feature of the city of Laodicea was its lack of a water supply. They had to pipe in lukewarm water via an aqueduct.

Jesus is the author of this letter, identifying Himself as "the Amen" (Rev 3:14). According to the Gospels, Jesus used "Amen" often to emphasize that what He was about to say He says with the authority of God and as the messenger of God.

Jesus also speaks as "the faithful and true witness" (Rev 3:14). In the church of Pergamum, Antipas is called "my faithful witness" (Rev 2:13) because he was put to death for his faith. Likewise, Jesus is the faithful witness to the Father because He is the Lamb Who was slain. Jesus is the true witness. "True" means He is faithful and true to His promises; He is dependable, He is genuine and real.

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