Are we purposeful.
14 And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.
15 ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.
I’ve heard many speak and teach on this passage. Many approach this passage with an Americanized duality that the passage isn’t meant to convey. There is definitely a duality, but I think it’s important to understand what the author intended to convey to the church of Laodicea… because the lesson is very applicable to the church of today.
Many times I have heard it said that God would prefer us to be “hot” or “cold”. Hot, being “on fire” or “passionate” for God; Cold, being “hard hearted” or “caloused” toward God. This is wrong. God does not prefer us to be “cold” toward Him. That idea does not even make sense in the light of the sacrifice that He made for us through Jesus!
To understand this passage properly, let’s get an understanding of Laodicea. Laodicea was located between two large commerce cities, Colosse and Heirapolis.
Colosse sat on a flowing river. Even though the temperatures in the region were mostly warm, Colosse enjoyed year round cold water because of the flowing river. The river brought life to the land causing agriculture to bring wealth to the land and the cool water was a highly sought after commodity since refrigeration was not yet invented.
Heirapolis was known for medicinal hot springs. People from all over the region would travel to Heirapolis and attempt to soak in these hot springs in hopes of being healed. The springs are rich with minerals and the natural heat would cause relief to many aches and pains.
Smack dab in the middle of these two cities was Laodicea. Laodicea was very wealthy. They benefited from the commerce that the two cities provided and they were in the middle of a valley that connected several travel routes.
When Revelation tells us that God “knows their works that they are neither hot nor cold”, He is declaring that their work is unpurposeful. He is giving them an example that is applicable to them. They do not provide relief like their “hot” neighbor at Heirapolis nor did they offer refreshing coolness like their “cold” neighbor at Colosse. No, they were “lukewarm” in the middle… not refreshing, not relieving. Think about when you drink hot tea when you have a sore throat. It’s soothing and provides a purpose; it gives relief to your throat giving you a mental break from the ache.Think also about taking that first cold drink after working in the hot sun. It provides instant refreshment and eases the panic that heat can provide.
As the church, are we providing relief? Are providing refreshment? Individually, am I doing this? Instead, are we living as wealthy, meanwhile we are “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked”? This is very sobering to me and I hope to you. Our response? “Be zealous and repent!”