Many times people think it is a mark of sophistication to not have any real passion about their faith in Christ. Tolerance and so-called “open mindedness” are the watchwords of the day. People can be passionate about many other things such as automobiles, houses, clothes, political views, and movies, but they dare not be passionate about Christ and His kingdom.
Although this is a contemporary condition, it has been around a long time. In Revelation 3:14-22 John delivered Christ’s message to the church at Laodicea. The city was located about forty miles southeast of Philadelphia in what is now the western side of modern Turkey. They suffered from the same problem. They were lukewarm about Christ. We can learn much from this passage.
- One, we must be on guard against being spiritually lukewarm!
Christ issued a strong indictment against the church at Laodicea. They knew they were wealthy and probably felt that they were above other churches. They claimed to need nothing without knowing that they needed everything in a spiritual sense. Spiritually, instead of being rich, they were “‘wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.'”
Because of their spiritual blindness, they were neither cold nor hot, but only lukewarm. They did not sense their need of spiritual help. When we drink lukewarm water, we want to spew it out of our mouths. Christ felt this way about the church in Laodicea.
Unless they change . . . unless they get on fire . . . unless the passion returns . . . unless they see their spiritual need . . . unless they become fully committed, Christ will spit them out of His mouth. So it is with us! There is a time to be open, but there is also a time to be committed!
- Two, unless we repent, Christ will administer justice to us.
The message of God’s love for us is powerful. We are saved because of the grace of God. Without God’s grace, we could not be saved. We would be forever lost and without relationship with almighty God. We rightly preach this message over and over again to people who are lost and to those who are making their journey to heaven.
At the same time, we must not overlook the fact that the gospel includes judgment. Speaking about Himself, Jesus said John 5:27, “and He [God] gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man.” Christ not only administers life, but He also administers justice. We will receive life or judgment, but nothing in-between.
Yes, lukewarmness will lead to judgment. Neutrality is not an option for us. Jesus said (Matthew 12:30), “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.'” We can be fully committed to Christ and still treat those who are not with dignity. But we cannot be lukewarm in our convictions.
- Three, we must turn to God in repentance, be restored, and be rich in faith.
Although Christ’s language is strong, the condition of the Laodiceans is not final. Christ issues them a call to repentance in verses 18-20. The strong language is a stern warning to them to repent and return to their first love. They must overcome complacency and turn with joy to God.
Christ challenges the Laodiceans to buy from Him “‘gold refined by fire.'” They cannot, of course, buy spiritual blessing with money. The language is clearly metaphorical. This is the gold of faith. It is far more valuable than any gold that the world offers. Our God wants us to be rich in faith.
The church is challenged to cover her nakedness with garments of purity and sincerity. In addition they need eye-salve to anoint their eyes. Laodicea was noted for its medical college and the Phrygian powder they used to make eye-salve. Christ drew from this background to make his point. Only He can heal the eyes of those who are spiritually blind.
- Four, Christ will discipline us, restore us, and dine with us!
Christ demonstrates His love for the Laodiceans with this comment (verse 19): “‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.'” His patience and love challenges them to repent and be zealous for the cause of Christ. His discipline is for the purpose of restoring us to full faith in Him.
Jesus stands at the door of their hearts and knocks. His love is unparalleled. Even though they have been lukewarm and full of pride, He longs for them to return to His fold. He invites those who become zealous to dine with Him. Think of it! We along with the early saints will dine with Christ!
Christ and all the saints ultimately will be victorious. Just as Christ overcame and sat down with the Father on His throne, so we who overcome will sit with Christ. All who overcome have a marvelous future. They will reign with Christ! With all this in store for us, we can easily become passionate about our relationship with Him.
Once again, Christ concludes with the refrain contained in all His letters to the seven churches. He declares (verse 22), ” ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'” Christ and the Spirit speak powerfully to the churches and to us today.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying. The Spirit is clearly saying to us, “Be fully committed to Christ! Stand firm for Him! Be passionate about His cause!” When we do, we have an invitation to dine with Him!
George M. Flattery, Ed.D., is the founder of Global University and Network211.