Revelation 3.14-22 – Lukewarm

14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.

15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.

20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.

22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

Interestingly, in some translations of the Bible, this last address is written to the church of the Laodiceans, rather than to the church in Laodicea. A small difference, but important. Laodicea means ‘rule of the people’, so straight away we see what kind of church this was; too many cooks spoiling the broth, because everyone wants to be the leader, the broth spoils and is not fit to eat anymore, it’s lukewarm and inedible. That’s not God’s design and structure for the church, for the workplace, for government, for the home, for life! Who should really be in charge of the church, the big cheese, who is the man? Jesus. Always. Period. Full stop.

Jesus is the Head of every church.

Again, another important, wealthy city…again full of Caesar worship and pagan worship (remember Asklepios the pagan god of healing?). This city had a poor water supply meaning that they were susceptible to being conquered by siege. So, to compensate for this, they made deals with enemies and tried to befriend everyone rather than making a principled stand against what was wrong and defending what was right…

They are described as lukewarm, neither hot nor cold. Hot water cleans, cold water refreshes. Men on fire for the Lord serve and give and do…men who are cold and in despair are often at a point of realising they need a Saviour…but lukewarm people are neither, it’s empty religion, empty practices, trying to please both God and man, the world and Jesus.

Interestingly, the very thing they boasted in was what they needed most…ironic, no? Their main exports were financial services, textiles, and eye salve. What does Jesus counsel them to do?

I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.

Man, he knows these people intimately, doesn’t He?!

The point for us is so clear, isn’t it…the very thing we think we are good at, the very things in which we boast, the very areas of our lives that we think we are doing so well in are exactly where we need Jesus the most. This might sound counterintuitive, but think about it…

  • Are you doing well at work?
    • Does Jesus go with you to work every day and do you seek to glorify Him through your actions and reactions all day?
  • Do you feel you’re caring for your family like no other parent you know?
    • Does your family acknowledge, together, God the Father’s loving presence?
  • Are you on fire spiritually?
    • Did you by some self-given means begin to understand the Scripture in a way you never have, or does the same Holy Spirit who inspired the human authors also illuminate the Scriptures for you?

Friends, we need to acknowledge our need for His presence in our lives, acknowledge that our beloved is knocking (Song of Solomon 5.2), and acknowledge that without Him in our lives we are, at best, lukewarm.


Published by James Travis

Pastor of Saar Fellowship in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Married to Robyn and Dad to our two boys.

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