Summary: God’s fanatic love for us makes us fanatics for him.
If you’ve ever been to Texas, you know how much the people there love ice tea. Many restaurants in Texas even serve ice tea like they serve ice water here. If you’ve been to England, you know how most people there would prefer to drink their tea hot. While Texans and the English may argue whether tea is best served cold or hot, they would agree that lukewarm tea is never good. Have you ever had lukewarm tea before? Doesn’t just the thought of it make you shudder? If so, you can understand how Jesus felt about the lukewarm faith of the Laodiceans. Because they were neither hot nor cold for him, Jesus was ready to spit, literally vomit these Christians out of his mouth. Since lukewarm Christianity makes Jesus nauseous, we would do well to turn up the heat on our faith. Let’s find out how we can do that.
The last of Jesus’ seven letters in Revelation was addressed to Christians living in the city of Laodicea. This was the only congregation that didn’t receive a single word of praise from Jesus. What happened to this vibrant congregation that had at one time even received a personal letter from the Apostle Paul (that letter has since been lost)? It seems as if the Christians in Laodicea had been infected by their surroundings. Laodicea was a wealthy city. It was the banking center of the area with a government mint. It produced a special kind of wool for which people paid good money. And it had developed an eye salve that was prescribed by doctors from all over the Roman Empire. The city was so rich that when it was destroyed by an earthquake in 60 A.D., the citizens refused financial help from Rome and rebuilt the city on their own.
This “we don’t need anybody’s help” attitude had infiltrated the church, for Jesus said to them: “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (Rev. 3:17). Their affluence had made the Christians in Laodicea complacent. Sure, their money may have built a beautiful church and provided Christmas hampers for the less-fortunate in their city, but this didn’t mean that the members themselves were hot for the Lord. With money in their pockets to fix up their homes, take their kids to ballet lessons, and head out of town for a weekend get-away every now and then, attending church and Bible class became just another item on their to do list and it must not have been a priority. If they could make it to church, great. If not, well they knew who Jesus was and what he had done for them. There was no need to be a fanatic about faith.
The thing is, Jesus wants fanatics. He wants us to be zealous for his Word and his work. When there are opportunities to worship him and study his Word, he wants us to make time for that. When we hear of opportunities to serve the Lord, whether through the building committee or evangelism committee, Jesus wants us to find out what we can do to help. He certainly doesn’t want us to criticize how the work is being done while we remain unwilling to roll up our sleeves to do it. Such indifference makes Jesus sick.