{Revelation Study} Lukewarm in Laodicea

So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth.

Revelation 3:16

The last church Jesus takes us to is the church in Laodicea. This is probably the most well-known letter that Jesus wrote because of verse 16 (above). But let’s go ahead and read the letter as a whole:

To the angel of the assembly in Laodicea write:

The Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Head of God’s creation, says these things:

I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing;’ and don’t know that you are the wretched one, miserable, poor, blind, and naked; I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich; and white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see. As many as I love, I reprove and chasten. Be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with me. He who overcomes, I will give to him to sit down with me on my throne, as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies.

~ Revelation 3:14-22

The Christians in Laodicea were neither hot nor cold. They weren’t on fire for Christ, but they didn’t have cold hearts either. They knew who Christ was, they acknowledged Him as Lord, but they weren’t passionate about Him. Serving Him wasn’t their #1 goal.

And that is the first and greatest commandment:

Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.” Matthew 22:36-38

Lukewarm Christians don’t put God first–they go through the motions, but they lack passion. The two extremes Jesus mentioned were being either hot or cold. If you have a cold heart, you are not a Christian at all–your heart is hard and the love of Christ is not in you. But if your heart is hot, you are on fire for God. You desire more of Him and give Him whole-hearted devotion with a willing spirit. You earnestly seek Him (1 Chronicles 28:9).

In the book of Romans, Paul calls us to be zealous for Christ. He says to not be lacking in diligence or zeal (NIV). Yet as one of the ladies in my study pointed out this morning, we can be overzealous if our zeal is misplaced. We must be zealous for Christ with discernment and love.

Paul wrote it this way, “For the love of Christ constrains us; because we judge thus, that one died for all, therefore all died” 2 Corinthians 5:14.

Did you get that?

Our zeal is constrained by the love of Christ. The NIV says that it compels us. I think it does both. The love of Christ keeps us from hurting others, yet it compels us to speak the truth and live the life He has called us to.

When we are on fire for Christ, we hunger for more of Him. Fire devours everything in its path and when we are on fire for God, we want to devour Him. We want to consume Him or be consumed by Him. It’s a longing that can only be satiated by His presence in our lives.

We are on fire for Christ when we love Him with our whole hearts. When we are compelled by His love and desire to please Him…

Yet so often, we get caught up in this world and fall short of that.

We are neither hot nor cold–and that’s a dangerous place to be.

Jesus said He would spew the lukewarm out of His mouth. He wants all of us, or nothing at all.

In the eyes of Christ, there is no such thing as a passive Christian. You either love God with all your heart or you don’t. It’s one or the other.

Yet we prefer to balance precariously on the line. We tip-toe down the center and profess ourselves as lovers of Christ while our lives say otherwise. I’m guilty of it. I’ll be honest. I’m often a lukewarm Christian. I love God, but that love doesn’t always consume my life–my very being.

I get caught up in being a wife, a mother, an author, a leader, and on, and on, and on my list of responsibilities could go. Yet deep down I know that I can be a better wife if my relationship with my husband stems from my relationship with Christ. I can be a better mom if I love my children through Christ–if I keep my focus on Christ, I could be a better wife, mother, author, leader, etc.

It’s the truth.

But so often I get caught up in just living, that I forget why I’m living at all.

I become lukewarm.

I set myself on the counter of life, instead in the fire of Christ.

And that fire is the refiner’s fire that we read about in Scripture.

In order to be on fire for Christ, we have to put ourselves into the Refiner’s fire daily.

Refinersfire

We have to make that choice.

And I do believe that it is a choice.

It’s a choice to spend time in God’s Word every day, even if it might make us less than early for an appointment.

It’s a choice to stand up for God’s standards, even when we know they won’t earn us brownie points with our friends, bosses, or co-workers.

It’s a choice to speak words of encouragement and love when others are tearing us down.

It’s a choice to live a life in the line of fire. Because often the Refiner’s fire comes from sources we don’t want to see as God-given. God uses persecution, sickness, heartache, and loss to make us more like Him.

And it’s in those times that we get to choose whether or not our faith in Him is real. Is He God or is He not? Because if He is God of all, then He can refine us with cancer. He can refine through circumstances the world would call evil. He can use all things together for the good of those who love Him–but only if we love Him enough to believe it.

My prayer this week is that God would ignite a fire in my life. And I pray that with a fearful heart. I know that fire isn’t pleasant. When you play with fire, you get burnt. But I want to be on fire for Christ. I don’t want to live lukewarm. I don’t want to be spewed out of Christ’s mouth. I don’t want to hear Him say, “I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity’” (Matthew 7:21-23). I want to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

 

Therefore, receiving a Kingdom that can’t be shaken, let us have grace, through which we serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.

Hebrews 12:28-29

Reflection Questions:

  • Summarize this letter in your own words. What would you say God wanted us to understand from reading it?
  • Are you lukewarm about your faith?
  • Are you willing to step into the refiner’s fire and ignite your faith in Christ? Are you willing to be on fire for God, no matter how much it burns?

 

Take it Further:

 

Other Blog Posts in this Series:

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