February 26, 2024

Lukewarm Laodicea

Revelation 3:14-22

“ 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.”

—  Revelation 3:15-16

Jesus’ letter to the church at Laodicea is striking. He has nothing positive to say about this church. But he does graciously warn them and call them to repentance, saying, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.” Here Jesus names himself the “Amen,” which means, “So be it” or, in other words, “This is the truth.” Jesus is the true One, and what he says is trustworthy and true. When he speaks, so be it. He is “the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.” Jesus rebukes the Laodicean church for its ineffective ministry. The cold mountain water of Colossae, 10 miles away, and the hot mineral water of Hierapolis, six miles away, both served people well. Cold water refreshes, and hot water heals. But Laodicea did not have a natural water source, so when either the cold or hot water made it to them, it was lukewarm and not beneficial. Jesus uses this local situation to describe the ministry of the church. It neither refreshed nor healed; it was putrid. Jesus wished for this church to be either refreshing or therapeutic so that their ministry would be effective. These words were harsh but needed. The Spirit calls us to search our hearts too. Does Jesus’ rebuke apply to us in our churches today? Have we become lukewarm? Do we rely on wealth instead of the Lord?

Lord Jesus, fill us with your Spirit of truth. Forgive and renew us, we pray. Amen.

About the author — Evan Heerema

Evan Heerema is a retired pastor who served churches in Washington state and in Michigan. He was also on the teaching staff at Kuyper College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for ten years. He and his wife are the parents of two daughters and the grandparents of two grandsons.

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