“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 verses 15 and 16
I don’t know about you guys, but at times I am almost scared to read some Chapters and study some of the verses that convict me, that cause me to shuffle uncomfortably in my happy little Christian world, where I am right in all that I say and do.
But reading Revelation chapter three we find these verses that impacts us all to some degree, that should cause all Christians to stop and think.
The sad truth is that as we look at how a Christian is called to live, and how they are expected to serve, we are all often found lacking, we are all often found , to some level, to be lukewarm.
We are called to be hot, the word used in verse 17 is boiling hot, we are called to be full with the zeal for the Lord, to be so full of love for him that his flames show and burn through us:
“Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm,
for love is strong as death,
jealousy is fierce as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
the very flame of the Lord”
-Song of Songs 8 verse 6
But when we are distracted in our walk, when we take our eyes away from Christ, its then we begin to fall, it is then we begin to grow lukewarm. By using this verse in Revelation 3 we can look at three different areas in which being lukewarm will effect our Christian living, and how to counteract this :
A. The Christian’s Identity.
B. The Christian’s Instruction.
C. The Christian’s Witness.
A. The Christians Identity.
As we can see from verse 17, the Church in Laodicea had its identity placed in purely corruptible objects, first lets just look at the first half of the verse:
“You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’…” They had utterly lost sight of who they were as a Church and as individual Christians. They had joyed in their wealth, in their prosperity, and they saw no need for anything else in their life.
They had replaced their salvations joy with money, and with their own personal wealth. And its a lesson to us, we must be careful that nothing replaces our zeal for God, not our wealth, not our job, not even our family. Once anything, material or otherwise, starts to draw our eyes from God, we will begin to slowly become lukewarm. We will slowly start to loose sight of our identity as saved sinners and instead place it instead in our belongings and in ourselves.
And Christ himself says this the second half of verse 17, he reminds them of what they really are if they are not in him,what they were before they were saved they’re nothing but:
“…wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked”
A segment comes to mind from the C.S Lewis book “Voyage of the Dawn Treader”(in pages 90 to 92) , Eustace lets himself be distracted with his want for the dragons treasure, he finds it, and quite satisfied with himself he falls asleep atop of it, Lewis then says about Eustace:
“Sleeping on a dragon’s hoard with greedy, dragonish thoughts in his heart, he had become a dragon himself.” He had become (temporarily) that which he desired after.
We must always remember that as Christians our identity is in Christ and Christ alone:
“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”
-John 15 verse 15
“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
– Colossians 3 verses 3 and 4
“You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.”
– 1 Thesselonians 5 verse 5
If our identity moves away from Christ, then we start to place it in what we were before we were saved “wretched pitiable, poor, blind and naked” sinners.
B. The Christians Instruction
The Christian is of course to be instructed in how to live,we need the guidance, this instruction can come only from the word of God, by reading it in times of private and by hearing it preached, by singing praises from it and by following the examples in it.
But if we are not bothering to read the living word’s of God, then we will not receive guidance, we will not grow in our faith and we will become lukewarm.
As Christians when we don’t read God’s word we are ignoring the words of the God that saved us:
“ Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” – Psalm 119 verse 105
With out reading the Word of God, we lose our light, because as Christians we can only find our light and life in Christ:
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” -1 John 1:7.
See if we are not in the word of God we will not receive the blessing from it. In verse 18 Christ offers his counsel to the church in Loudicea, and off course coming from Christ its a counsel that cannot be ignored, and its a counsel that applies to us too :
“I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. “
If we are to be lazy Christians and not listen to Christ, then we will miss his instruction and his guiding.What he offered to that Church he also offers to us, he offers us these riches which have been tried by the fire and found to be perfect. He offers us the white clothing, so that we may be reminded that before God our sin our nakedness is forever hidden before God. And offers us an everlasting eye salve or eye ointment.
The city of Loudicea was famous at this time for producing this powder, which when mixed with water turned into a kind of dough, this was then applied onto the eyes as a medicinal and soothing ointment.
But here we see Christ the great physician reminding this lukewarm church that only through him could they see light :
“For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light ” – Psalm 36 verse 9
Only through him could their eyes be opened to him, not through any worldly efforts.
Lukewarm Christians miss the instruction and guiding of Christ, therefore we must strive to read the Bible and pray everyday as often as we can, to avoid missing his precious instruction and faultless guiding.
The Christians Witness
Lukewarm Christianity also results in a weaker witnessing. If we ourselves are not holding Christ to be the ultimate and most important person in our life, if have let other things come in between us and Christ. We we will not see this same need for Christ to be ultimate in the lives of those around us, witnessing and sharing the testimony of our Saviour will no longer seem as important to us.
The less we place Christ of first in our life, the less we will desire to see him first in the lives of those around us.
But we know that this is not right for the Christian, we are all called to share the Gospel, to share the story of the one who saved us:
“Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ”
– Colossians 1 verse 28
To avoid becoming lukewarm and passive in our witnessing we must seek to share Christ with all those around us, through our actions and our words. If we neglect to share Christ,if we are not living a life that seeks to bear witness to him and what he has done for us – then we are neglecting the great commission to go and make disciples.
Ultimately we do all of course go through times in which we do not serve Christ as we should, we all still live with sin in our lives. This verse, and others like it, are not in the Bible so that we should feel like hopeless Christians. Yes these type of verses serve as a warning to us, but they are also an encouragement.
If we do strive to put God first in all things, if we do seek to serve Christ, then God will see in us what he saw in one of the other revelation Churches :
“I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. “ – Revelation 3 verse 8
We should not ask, “What is wrong with the world?” for that diagnosis has already been given. Rather, we should ask, “What has happened to the salt and light?” – John Stott