“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth” - Revelation 3:15-16
This line from the book of Revelation has always been an attention-getter. Jesus is referring to the church in Laodicea. Although it is believed that the city was first known as “the City of Zeus,” later it acquired the biblical name of Laodicea, which means “justice of the people.”
The church at Laodicea, along with six others, were given a spiritual evaluation by Jesus in the book of Revelation. The spiritual lukewarmness of the church is where Jesus takes issue.
Laodicea had a system of aqueducts which supplied water to the city. Because it lacked its own water supply, the water traveled via aqueduct from the nearby city of Hierapolis.
The water in Hierapolis came out of the ground hot. After its journey of six miles to the city, however, the water became lukewarm. Although cold water was preferred for drinking purposes and hot water for bathing, lukewarm water was considered good for neither. Citizens had to make the water either hot or cold in order for it to be of use to them.
Jesus likens the church there to the undesirable temperature of water. Those who were hot in their spiritual ardor and, therefore, their works, were applauded by Jesus.
Even those whose feelings ran cold toward Christ were assessed as preferrable to the lukewarm in Christ’s eyes. The cold, or unconverted, are more open to the gospel than those who are half-hearted in their faith. The blasé, the comfortable, the outwardly pious usually feel that their faith is just fine as it is, thank you very much.
The revelation, the shocking thing, that the Laodicean church needs to realize about itself is how sickening their placidness is to God. Hence, the…uh…”spewing”.
The times we are in calls the church everywhere to reassess itself. Worldwide we see the deep upset of humanity over a host of issues. Distress of this magnitude calls forth people with ardent faith and deep love to address the pain and suffering. Spirit-filled people will have the fortitude and tools to meet the needs of this suffering planet.
Brian McLaren writes about the need for the fire of the Spirit today:
In the millennia since Christ walked with us on this Earth, we’ve often tried to box up the “wind” [of the Spirit] in manageable doctrines. We’ve exchanged the fire of the Spirit for the ice of religious pride. We’ve turned the wine back into water, and then let the water go stagnant and lukewarm. We’ve traded the gentle dove of peace for the predatory hawk or eagle of empire. When we have done so, we have ended up with just another religious system, as problematic as any other: too often petty, argumentative, judgmental, cold, hostile, bureaucratic, self-seeking, an enemy of aliveness.
In a world full of big challenges, in a time like ours, we can’t settle for a heavy and fixed religion. We can’t try to contain the Spirit in a box. We need to experience the mighty rushing wind of Pentecost. We need our hearts to be made incandescent by the Spirit’s fire.
Let your heart ignite, your blood run hot, your heart fill with passion with the things that give you a lift, excitement, and enthusiasm. Catch the fire of the Spirit. You can do this. We, as the church, can, too.