To the church in Laodicea write
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know you deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other.
Lukewarmness is not an attractive trait but Jesus has to bring this charge against the church in Laodicea because they were ineffective. What he calls for is full commitment which is beneficial to others and a blessing to themselves.
The puzzle here is that cold or hot are better extremes than lukewarmness for we are, I guess, immediately inclined to say ‘Hot good; Cold bad’. However this can be helpfully explained by the geographical and archaeological facts that the nearby cities of Hierapolis and Colossae had hot and cold springs respectively both of which brought benefits to others rather than the water that flowed into Laodicea from nearby mineral springs, that by the time it reached the city was tepid and not at all pleasant or useful.
The call then, to the members of the church here, was for radical change
They thought that they were ‘rich’ v.17 based on their physical wealth and acquisitions whereas Jesus’ assessment was that they were ‘wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked’. As a result one of the harshest words is spoken to them v.16 ‘I am about to spit you out of my mouth.’
But damning as that assessment was there is a way in which the situation can be redeemed.
‘I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire’ so that you van become rich; and white clothes to wear so that you can cover your shameful nakedness, and salve to put on your eyes so that you can see.’ V.18
Have you perhaps lost the commitment and enthusiasm you once had for the gospel? As a consequence of Covid and the comfort of joining your brothers and sisters on Sundays only through a screen, have you lost the desire to meet face to face? Are you perhaps feeling tired and weary in the service of the Lord and his gospel? In other words are there signs that you are becoming lukewarm?
Let these words from the Lord challenge you this morning
‘Those I love I rebuke and discipline’ v.19
Let the wide range of challenges in these seven letters sink into your very being and accept the loving rebuke and discipline of the Lord. Then take the way forward that he offers and the result will be that you regain that fire for the Lord you once knew and the great blessings that he longs to bestow on those who are walking in his ways.
Not the least of these blessings is the great promise of verse 20
Here I am! Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me.
The future then is wonderful!
To him who overcomes I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.