Christ Continues to Speak to the Lukewarm Church

“So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:16)

That’s a pretty powerful statement, especially considering the fact that Jesus said it. It certainly begs the question: Could Jesus be talking about my church?

Actually, the church to which Jesus was referring to was the church at Laodicea. Laodicea was the last of the seven churches described by Jesus in Revelation.

The Apostle John, now John the Revelator, was directed by Jesus in Revelation 1:11 to write down what he saw from a vision. He was then to deliver it to seven of the churches which occupied Asia Minor. That area now is modern-day Turkey.

Laodicea was a city of great wealth, so the Laodiceans didn’t have to rely on anyone. They had obtained their wealth from textiles – largely the production of black wool – and from banking. The city was also known for its medical school, which developed an eye salve for an eye infection that was common in the region. Is it any wonder why Jesus said to the church at Laodicea, “you do not know that you are … poor and blind and naked”? (Revelation 3:17)

Obviously, money was plentiful. It was so plentiful that the Laodiceans were able to overcome their greatest weakness, the absence of a dependable water supply. They imported water through stone pipes from another city located more than six miles away. The imported water was cool when it left the ground, but by the time it arrived in Laodicea, it was lukewarm.

Jesus told the church at Laodicea that it was neither cold, like the cold, pure water of Colossae, nor hot, like the therapeutic hot springs of Hierapolis. Instead, Laodicea was lukewarm and provided neither refreshment for the spiritually weary or healing for the spiritually sick. (Revelation 3:14-15) That’s exactly why Jesus said to them, “I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich, and white garments, that you may clothe yourself… and eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see”. (Revelation 3:18)

It is clear that Jesus was then speaking to a first century church. However, he is also speaking to the Church today. Just like Paul, whose epistles were addressed to individual churches, Jesus was speaking to all churches that reflect the character and arrogance of the Laodicean Church.

Jesus used strong words to describe the Laodicean church: wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. He despised them because they were lukewarm.

If your church resembles the Laodicean Church, do something about it. Ask your pastor to stop watering down the sermons and to start preaching the Word of God. If he refuses to mention the word “blood”, remind him that the very salvation he enjoys came from the blood that Jesus shed at Calvary. Let him know that you expect to be reminded about it in both praise and in worship.

Finally, remind your pastor that Jesus didn’t condemn churches that resembled Laodicea. Instead, he offered hope for them. That’s why he said to the church at Laodicea and to lukewarm churches everywhere, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with me”. (Revelation 3:19-20)

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