Revelation 3: Lukewarm
As we enter Revelation 3, the church of Laodicea has always been somewhat confusing to me. They are neither hot nor cold.
Rev 3:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
Rev 3:15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
Rev 3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
Rev 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
Rev 3:18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
I think that my propensity to think about this verse in the wrong way has come from the dichotomy of hot and cold. We are often talking about Christians being on fire for Christ, so when you come to this verse where God is talking about preferring a church that is either hot or cold, it brings to mind that imagery of a church on fire, and why would God prefer a church that is far away from being on fire as opposed to one that is at least nearer? Cold seems like the absolute worst place to be whereas lukewarm might be approaching an understanding of how to be on fire for Christ.
However, I don’t think that this passage necessarily means that. Another thing about lukewarm water is that it really does not have very much use for human consumption. Hot water makes things like tea, and cold water is obviously refreshing. They are different, but they have definite purposes kind of like churches.
The church in Laodicea is a church that has become complacent. They don’t have need for anything materially, so they have lost their vision and their drive. I don’t know that the comparison here is about being on fire for God. Rather, I think that the illustration here might be about having a purpose. They have simply become indifferent. They don’t care.
This complacency has been made them unaware of the problems that they do have as a church. Even though they seem to be together from the outside, they have to address these issues. They simply don’t care because they are stuck in neutral. They don’t have a vision for the purpose that God has for them, and as a result, they are simply not acceptable where they are.
Obviously then, we don’t want to see this happen in our lives or our churches. We don’t want to become lukewarm. We don’t want to become indifferent and to virtually useless. Rather, we want to find out what purpose God has for us specifically, and it might be different than the purpose for someone else. You might be hot, or you might be cold. However, when God calls us to a purpose, the worst thing to do is simply not care about it and ignore that type of message. It did not work out well for Jonah.