The Church in Laodicea
As John addresses this seventh church in the book of Revelation, we find perhaps some of the most important words that can be shared to a believer in today’s world. John writes, “I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
John’s message is clear. The word from the angel of the Lord is clear. For those who have faith, it is unacceptable to state your faith without the proper actions to back it up. To have faith is to live in faith. You cannot be lukewarm–you must decide to act on your faith or not.
And what’s amazing about this passage is that Jesus is willing to sit at the table and eat with you, no matter how many times you have chosen to be cold in the past. If you choose to be hot in that moment, Jesus will sit and eat with you and you with him! Because Jesus is grace embodied.
The purpose of this message to the church in Laodicea is not shame. It’s not even necessarily judgment! The purpose is for this church to choose to follow Jesus not just in word, but in deed too.
And this is such an important lesson for us in the church to hear today. Because cultural Christianity has been the norm for many years and decades. (Now, within that, there have certainly been many, many people who have been faithful and who could be described as “hot” in their faith.) Cultural Christianity, though, has convinced us that since we live in the part of the world that we live in, and because we generally practice kindness, that that makes a follower of Jesus.
But to follow Jesus is a radical calling on our lives, even in the part of the world that we live in and even when there are a lot of “nice” people around us. To follow Jesus, often is to go beyond simply being nice or kind. It is a call to love our enemies! To be a disciple of Jesus is to willingly lay down our lives for someone else. To be generous to the point of foolishness. To be forgiving to the point of being taken advantage of. To be a person of peace in a world that values doing whatever it takes to get what you want.
And John writes to the church in Laodicea that they need to make up their minds about whether this is the kind of faith they are going to live out. They cannot be lukewarm. They cannot be halfway in and halway out. They cannot choose to follow Jesus when it is convenient. They must learn to follow Jesus always or to walk away entirely.
And perhaps this is a message for Christians in our part of the world today, too. We live in a time and a place where it can be easy for us to assent to faith in Christianity and even a deep love for Jesus, and yet we do not have to worry about persecution–not truly. Many of us are more comfortable financially and socio-economically than most people throughout history as well as most people living in the world today. That doesn’t necessarily make us evil, but it does lead us to ask the question of ourselves: are we hot or cold in faith?
Does Jesus have all of our hearts and lives, or just parts?
How much are we willing to do and to give for Jesus’ sake?
John writes to the church in Laodicea and encourages them to choose. To not be lukewarm any longer. I hope you will choose today to give your life fully to Christ. To hold nothing back. To “be earnest and repent.” Giving all things to Jesus, and living daily as a follower and disciple of the one who has saved us.