Many of us this time of year will be attending a church service. Some will be attending for one of the few times a year that they go to church. But even those of us who go to regular church services, are we going to a Christmas service out of obligation or tradition? Are we going because it’s “what is expected?”
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth. -Revelation 3:15-16
The author uses the terms cold and hot and we tend to think of that in the sense of spiritual fervor. They are either full of love and devotion for Christ or they are unbelievers. Many authors have reasoned that this not the meaning from this verse. Let’s look at the city of Laodicea whom the verse is being spoken of.
Laodicea, did not have a good water source. They received hot water from the city of Hierapolis, famous for it’s healing hot springs. Cold water came from the south out of Colossae. But by the time the water reached Laodicea through the Roman aquaducts, both water supplies were lukewarm.
What many scholars suppose, is that the author of Revelation was saying that Jesus wished the people in Laodicea were either hot, like the waters from Hierapolis or cold like that from Colossae. Instead their works were simply unremarkable, lukewarm.
God says our lukewarm devotion to him is extremely distasteful to him. My study Bible says that the word used to “spit out” is more literally translated as “vomit.” The church at Laodicea has become lukewarm and is of no more benefit to God. They had become complacent and stagnant. The nature of it’s works were useless and barren.
When we become lukewarm, it’s not that we aren’t passionate people, it’s just that the focus of our dedication is not on Christ, but on something something else. Thus our works are done to bring glory to ourselves or something else, instead of them bringing glory to God.
In his book, Crazy Love, Francis Chan gives us a look at the lukewarm Christian. These people may attend church fairly regularly, but:
- Lukewarm Christians don’t really want to be saved from their sin, just the consequences of it.
- Lukewarm Christians are moved by stories about people doing radical things for Christ, yet they don’t do radical things themselves.
- Lukewarm Christians equate their partially sanitized lives with holiness.
- Lukewarm Christians rarely share their faith with their neighbors, coworkers, or friends.
- Lukewarm Christians think about life on earth much more than eternity in heaven.
- Lukewarm Christians love their luxuries and rarely give to the poor in a truly sacrificial way.
- Lukewarm Christians do not live by faith; their lives are structure so they never have to.
- Lukewarm Christians give God their leftovers — not their first and best.
We all struggle times with lukewarmness and I have areas where I’m better than others. But it really is a serious problem. Because many of the things that we do lukewarm, look better when we compare them to the world around us. But when compared to Jesus, they pale in comparison.
When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you? -Malachi 1:8
The priests in Malachi’s day had spotless animals, but offered up less desirable ones and kept the perfect ones for themselves. The assumed God would be OK with that because the offered something. God is not OK with that, he calls it evil. As Francis writes, “Let’s stop calling it a ‘busy schedule’ or ‘bills’ or ‘forgetfulness.’ It’s called evil.”
This was a hard topic to read on in his book and this has been hard to write as it exposes my own lukewarmness. But the great news is that although my sin and apathy had earned me death, the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus. He didn’t come for the healthy, but for those who are sick in their sin. If I am thirsty, I could come and be satisfied in God.
There is still hope for me and my lukewarm heart.