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; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 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: 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. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 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.
Again, we see very serious concerns here on the part of Jesus toward this church, In fact, He had no commendation for this church, but launched directly into corrective measures. He uses an analogy to express this which the readers would have gotten immediately, as he did with each of the letters to the churches. Apparently the Laodicean water supply traveled through an underground aqueduct to bring water from Colosse. It started there as clear cold water, and would arrive in Laodicea tepid and lukewarm. Also considered was water from the hot springs in Hieropolis, which was so hot it steamed, but if brought to Laodicea again would be tepid and lukewarm. For those readers who are either soda or coffee drinkers, how do you prefer those drinks? Most of us like our sodas ice cold, and our coffee piping hot. For either to be lukewarm would, literally make us want to spew them out or our mouths over the distaste they would produce.
When Jesus said to this church, I know thy works, He was not in this case referring to good works, but evil works. Another important thing to note is that Laodicea was a wealthy city, being a center of banking and finance in Asia. This church was likely far from a poor church. In fact, Jesus alludes to that, saying, Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing;. But yet, Jesus clearly felt differently, as he pointed out many failings in this church.
In our country, and in our time, it almost seems that the church at Laodicea represents many of the things which are not right with our churches today. Are we basically fat and happy, thinking that we have reached the pinnacle of “churchianity?” Are we satisfied with where we are and what we are doing? Do we think we have attained Christian “success” to the point where we think we have accomplished something? Have we done these things while excluding Jesus Himself from our churches?
Our travels through the seven letters to the churches of Asia have been very cursory, and just an overview. Over the course of the next few days, we are going to really explore and analyze some of the issues facing this church, and see how they are applicable to many of our churches today.
Read this section, and if you have any thoughts, let’s hear them as we take a more detailed look at this lukewarm church.