Posted by brianbaker33
(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; (15) I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. (16) So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. (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: (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. (19) As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. (20) Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. (21) To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. (22) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Growing up, I have heard many sermons on this passage. In every one of those sermons, the same theme was expressed – God wants you to be on fire for Him or He doesn’t want you to be for Him at all, instead of being “half-way.” As a teenager I thought, “How does that work?” Why would God rather me be against Him than somewhat for Him? And if God is telling me He wants me to be either hot or cold, why is the preacher saying everyone needs to be hot instead of lukewarm or cold? This question was always in my mind every time I heard this passage or read from it. It wasn’t until my last year at West Coast Baptist College that one of my professors, Dr. Goetsch, gave just a brief insight into this passage. This short insight made me start researching this more, and by God’s grace, He has led me to what I truly believe this passage refers to.
What I learned in class that day was just simple look at the city of Laodicea and the cities surrounding it, Hieropolis to the North and Colossae to the South. Hieropolis was known for its hot springs. It was a city founded by the Romans to be something of a medicinal spa treatment because of its hot, soothing waters. Colossae was known for cold springs. These springs would allow people to simply bend down and scoop up some cold, refreshing water. The city of Laodicea was obsessed with wealth. History tells us that Laodicea was one of the largest banking cities in the world at that time. When the earthquakes hit late in the first century and destroyed their city, Laodicea refused help from Rome and built the city back up with their own resources. They were so caught up in their riches that they built pipelines from Hieropolis and Colossae to their city. They saw the wealth their city could bring in if they could have both of those things. However, when the hot springs came through the pipeline, the water from the North became lukewarm by the time it reached the city. Likewise, the cold water from the South became lukewarm by the time it reached the city. They spent much time and resources trying to increase their wealth, but they found that it came to nothing. So how does this passage apply in our lives? First we will look at what is means to hot, cold, or lukewarm. Second we must examine what it is we are living for. Third we must ask ourselves, “What is my response when Christ knocks on my heart’s door?”
From the brief study of the cities above, not only is being hot a good thing, but so is being cold. I truly believe that the intent of this passage is to remember your purpose. When God saved you, He called you to a purpose. Some He called into ministry, some into education, some into business, etc. But within any of those callings, you are to fulfill the purpose God has for you in being a Christian above all else. Some He wants to be hot, and some He wants to be cold. Think about it! When you have been playing sports all day, do you want a glass of hot water? When your muscles are tense or sore, do you want to sit in a bathtub of cold water? I don’t think so! The temperature of the water matters. In both of those cases, lukewarm water wouldn’t cut it. In our Christian walk, God has a purpose for you. Maybe it is to be an encourager, or perhaps you are a fiery soulwinner, or maybe you just enjoy being a helping hand around the church. In all of these cases, you have a God-given purpose. Your purpose may be a refreshing aid to those around; or maybe your purpose is to “stir the pot” and lead people into serving God though it may get tough sometimes. You have a purpose! For some it is hot, for others it is cold – both are important. The lukewarm Christian is someone who has forgotten their purpose. The lukewarm Christian was once hot or cold, but allowed the world, the flesh, and/or the Devil to have a greater influence than Jesus Christ. The lukewarm Christian no longer serves God and has become useless. He is useless to the Christians around him, and he useless to God – He will spew you out of His mouth! The church of the Laodiceans allowed wealth and riches to render them useless. They lost their purpose. They sought the world’s wealth instead of Christ’s wealth (verses 17-18). Have you allowed something or someone to distract you from your purpose? Have you turned lukewarm?
The people of the church of the Laodiceans were living for the riches of this world instead of laying up treasure in heaven. This is what caused their church to be lukewarm. John warns us in his first epistle that Christians are not to love the world or the things of this world. We are to be God-focused. Unfortunately, there are many traps out there to get us. John also warns us of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Many of the distractions we face come from within ourselves. We are our own worst enemy. We allow our desires to overtake God’s desires for us. We look at things and lust after them and covet them. We allow pride to creep and think we don’t need God. All these things make us lukewarm. Some are even lukewarm because they didn’t like the purpose God called them to. They tried to make their hot water cold or their cold water hot, but they found that they became lukewarm in the process. The greatest form of pride is to think that you know better than God. Summed up, the Laodiceans lived for themselves – selfishness – and lost their heart for God. If you are living for yourself today, Jesus has the same counsel for you as He did for them. This counsel is found in verse 18 – invest in Christ and His kingdom, and the rewards will far outweigh those of this world. So, what are you living for? If it is anything but Christ, you are lukewarm.
If you are lukewarm today and Christ is convicting you about it, how are you going to respond? If Christ is speaking to you, know that it is because He loves you and wants you to repent – verse 19 clearly states that. If you are lukewarm, Christ is standing at your heart’s door and knocking. He waiting for you to allow Him to come in and cleanse your heart. He wants to come in and turn you back to your purpose. He wants to make you hot or cold again. Only Christ can! And here is the most amazing part – He wants to!!! He wants to have fellowship with someone like me, I constantly mess up. And He wants to have fellowship with you! Will you let Him? Why wouldn’t you? He is knocking. Please, please let Him in. He will give you purpose once again and bring you back to where you should be.