In Revelation 3, starting with verse 14, Jesus addresses the last of the seven churches of Asia Minor, the church of Laodicea. Most know this is the church that has been called the lukewarm church. For a church, there is nothing worse than being lukewarm. A lukewarm church is because the members are lukewarm and therefore lacking the passion for serving God and the purpose that He has placed within their lives. The result is that the church becomes unproductive and unattractive to God and people. A church can have all the stuff and do activities but lack the power and the peace that comes when a church is functioning in the right way.
For years I studied this group of scripture trying to figure out what Jesus meant when He said, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot: I would that you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.” Now, if we believe that Jesus was talking about spiritual conditions here, then we would have to conclude that Jesus was saying to the church, I would rather you were on fire (hot) or lost (cold) than to be what you are lukewarm. The problem I had with that is I cannot see Jesus wanting the church to be lost. I know some have taught that it is impossible to reach people that think they are right when they are not, lukewarm, but I begin to search deeper to see what Jesus meant.
First, let me say that when studying the Bible, you must always do it with the original content in mind. This means that you must realize the writers were writing to real people in the first century, and so you must all way take the original congregation to heart when studying the Bible. So, when I began to dig into the history of the city of Laodicea, I found something interesting. South of the city was the town of Colossae. One of the things that Colossae was famous for was the cold-water springs that came into the city. People would come from all over to drink the pure cold water that came into the city. If you have drunk water from a cold spring, there is nothing like it. In that day, with no refrigeration, this was the only way to get something cold to drink, and so the city was known for the pure, cold, refreshing water is produced year-round. To the north of Laodicea was the city of Hierapolis that was known for its hot water springs. These springs are known throughout the region as a place of healing. Like the springs in Warm Spring Georgia, people would come to sit in the springs for different ailments. So, on both sides of the city of Laodicea, you had these two very different water supplies. The problem was, Laodicea had outgrown its water supply, and they did not have any springs in the city, so they had to bring water in. The problem was that there were no pumps to pump the water that day, so by the time it got to the city, it was lukewarm and not good for drinking. One historian said the water was known to make people nauseous when they drank it.
With this information, the text takes on a different meaning altogether. Jesus was using something that the people knew to bring about a spiritual revelation, which was His pattern. Jesus was not talking about spiritual conditions but rather sharing with them that they were neither pure and refreshing nor did they have a passion that brought healing to people. You see, a church should be attractive to God, which then makes it attractive to hurting people. The church of Laodicea may have been attractive to people, but it was not attractive to Jesus in that He said to them, you are like the water of your city lukewarm, and you make me nauseous. I don’t know about you, but I never want Jesus to say what I do for Him makes Him nausea. The people understood what He was saying because they dealt with this issue daily. Jesus is saying that I want the church to be like cool living water flowing from the mountain of God into the lives of hurting people. I want the church to be like a hot spring that brings healing to the people that come seeking after it. But Jesus tells the church that you are neither one of these things, much less both; you are lukewarm. Lukewarm means that they had no purpose, no passion, and were ineffective for the kingdom of God. How many churches does that describe today? Now they had money, and they had all the stuff. No doubt this church had programs and was doing all kinds of ministry, but there was no impact on people. There was no change in people’s lives. They were lukewarm, and Jesus was not in the midst of anything they were doing, and then Jesus tells them what got them into this state in the first place, “you say you have need of nothing.”
The attitude of needing nothing was what got them into a state of lukewarmness. They had money, had the right programs, and had plenty of stuff, but that lacked the one thing that a church and believers must have, Jesus. You see, the greatest problem this church had was the fact that they did not think they had a problem. The same is true today in the western church. We have so many churches that have more money than they ever had, and they have all the right programs, and they may even have a large congregation, but they lack the one thing that they need to be a church, and that is Jesus. They are missing the Holy Spirit because they are lukewarm. They live with the attitude we do not need anything; we have all we need. The church nor the people can ever come to the place where we think we need nothing from Jesus, that we have all we need. Because the truth is that God is not impressed with our bank account, and God is not impressed with the size of our buildings. What impresses God is the condition of our hearts and the passion of our worship. What attracts God is people that desperately seek more of Him. A church that operates under the leadership of the Holy Spirit and becomes a place of healing for all that enter in. This is what Jesus wants from the church.
So, what is your life today? Are you cold and refreshing to those that are seeking something, and are you hot and passionate in your worship that draws those that are hurting? Or are you lukewarm and not effective at all for the kingdom? Have you come to the place where you think you have it as you like it and you really do not need anything? Today remember A lukewarm church repulses Jesus.