No Lukewarm

Lord’s Acre Sunday
Rev. Alice MacKeil
Revelation 3:14-22

Just a few days ago, my husband and I, along with 15 others, were on an EO familiarization tour of Turkey. On our next to last day of touring the places where Paul had visited on his 1st, 2nd, and 3rd missionary journeys, as well as several of the churches written about in the book of Revelation, we visited Colossae (Paul’s letter to the Colossians), Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-22, Col. 4:16) and Hierapolis (Col. 4:13). These tri-cities were very close together, about 9 miles apart.

Colossae was near a mountain range and had cold water.
The easy way to remember that is C for Cold.
Hierapolis was an area with hot springs, H for Hot.
Laodicea was in between the Cold-water city of Colossae
and the Hot water city of Hierapolis. L for lukewarm

Listen to what John had to say to the church in Laodicea, one of the 7 churches in the book of Revelation:

14 “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Laodicea. This is the message from the one who is the Amen—the faithful and true witness, the beginning[a] of God’s new creation:

15 “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! 16 But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! 17 You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. 18 So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. 19 I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.

20 “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. 21 Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne.

22 “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.”

It is really helpful when you can read these words in context to what was going on in the city of Laodicea.

Laodicea was a very large wealthy Roman city of 100,000 back at the time of Paul. They produced medicine for eye infections and hearing problems. They were also known for their back wool from black sheep. Laodicea was the richest of cities with their banking, but in our scripture for today you heard that they were called wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.

They were rich financially but poor spiritually. They were criticized for their deeds being lukewarm, neither hot or cold. Their behavior is like the water that was piped down from Hierapolis. By the time it got to them it was no longer hot and was polluted. If you drank it, it would make you sick. Thus, the reference to “I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

There is a message in this for us, for all churches, for all disciples of Jesus. We need not be lukewarm with our deeds. We are to be either hot or cold but not lukewarm.

It’s like the food at a potluck meal. We want the hot food to served hot and the cold food to be served cold. When the hot food has cooled too much it is not as good and when the cold food has warmed up too much it is not good.

The same is true with us, followers of Jesus. We need to be fully what God wants us to be, fully cold or fully hot, to be what God has created us to be. It is not that hot is better than cold, it is that we are to be the people God desires us to be, fully committed followers of Jesus.

I hope that our potluck meal after worship today will help you remember to not be lukewarm Christians.