Revelation 3:15 – 17  

 Jesus speaks to the church at Laodicea

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

Jesus, this One who humbly walked among men and would not “bruise a broken reed nor snuff out a smoldering wick”, was now giving a stern warning to the believers at Laodicea, a first century church founded in Asia Minor. Jesus was warning them that if they did not change their ways, they would be in danger of being rejected by Jesus. And not only would Jesus reject them, but he would do so in quite a violent manner.

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So this raises a huge question. What was the problem with the Laodiceans? What terrible things had they done to deserve this warning? As I look at this passage of Scripture, it seems to me that Jesus was just as concerned with what they weren’t doing as with what they were doing. When it comes to spiritual matters, we must stand up for what is right in God’s eyes as well as reject and resist the things that are not right in God’s eyes.

But the Laodiceans were neither hot nor cold. They were (spiritually speaking) lukewarm. Had they adapted (or should I say accommodated) themselves to the secular society around them? Is it possible that they were no longer advocating godliness in their daily lives, and were tolerating ungodly behaviors and attitudes of those around them? Hmmmm…. This does not sound a whole lot different from the way things are here for many Christians and churches today in our Western culture and society.

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Now hot and cold are generally thought of as being opposites. And most people tend to like one or the other, but not both at the same time. At least this is true when it comes to drinking beverages. We drink hot coffee or hot chocolate at the beginning of work days and when it is winter. We drink cold drinks or chilled sodas when we want to relax and when it is summertime. But few of us would enjoy drinking lukewarm coffee or Coke at any time of the year.

The same is not true when it comes to temperature and climate. We will do all that we can do to stay warm in frigid weather, and to cool off when it is blazing hot weather. Believe me, I have seen both. I remember our first winter in Manitoba when it was -45 Celsius (-49 Fahrenheit) or worse for over six weeks. And I also remember how terribly hot it was when we were living in the village in Papua New Guinea. During the first six months, I would lay on the floor of our house for over an hour after lunch panting for air and leaving a pool of sweat on the floor around me.

But given enough time, I did acclimate myself to these extreme temperatures. What used to bother me before, became “normal” for me. And that is the danger of sin and ungodliness for us today. If we allow ourselves to be continually exposed to things that don’t please God, or we don’t actively pursue the things that do please God, then the end result is that we can become spiritually lukewarm. Let us take care or may find Jesus ready to reject us just as He was about to do to the Laodiceans.

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There is one more aspect that I would like to explore in this article. Namely this: whenever we do sense God is calling us to serve Him in some way, we should not be surprised if He takes us out of our comfort zone. I still think it was rather ironical that God called me, a person who grew up in the high, dry mountains of Western Canada, to serve him in a low swampy and humid, tropical region of Papua New Guinea. After five years in PNG, I became accustomed to the heat, but then God moved our family back to Canada.

Four years later, we were ready to return to PNG, but this time God sent us east rather than south. We ended up serving with our mission for a year and a half in East Africa. More recently, Jill and I had anticipated spending more time together as a couple seeing as one of our boys is married and our other son was accepted into the military. But apparently, God wanted me to serve Him in Dallas while Jill stayed home back in Canada. And in just over a week, I will be heading to PNG to work on some Bible translation projects. Thankfully, Jill will be able to join me for about half of the three months that I am over there.

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In all of our travels though, I can honestly say that God has taken good care of all our needs. And I have sensed His presence in all we have done. Perhaps we are the lucky ones, for in our constant travels we have had to depend on God and trust Him. Perhaps we have been able to avoid some of that slipping into mediocrity in our spiritual lives that can come through the experiences of simply settling down and blending in to the general cultural environment that is all around us. In either case, may God help us all to stand up for his truth and impact others around us. May we be either hot or cold, but never lukewarm.