In the final book of the Bible, chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation detail seven historical churches, which many believe correspond with seven distinct time periods in church history. In each of the first six ages, Jesus gives a commendation and an exhortation. But in the seventh age, there was no commendation.
Most church historians believe that the seventh and final church, the Church of Laodicea, corresponds to our current era.
Laodicea was located in what is now Turkey. It was an extremely wealthy city and a part of several major trade routes. It was a centre of banking and finance, one of the richest cities of the ancient world. When an earthquake destroyed the city in 60AD, they refused Roman aid and rebuilt from their own wealth.
Laodicea was well known for its textile trade, due to the superior quality of the soft, black wool produced by the sheep in that area. Laodicea was also famous for its eye medicine.
Archaeology shows that Laodicea’s water supply came from underground hot springs a distance away from the city. By the time the water reached the town, it was no longer hot, but was merely lukewarm.
When Jesus is speaking to the Laodicean church in Revelation, He likens their spiritual zeal to their water, neither hot nor cold, and tells them that He is about to spit them out. The original Greek literally means “to vomit”.
He tells them that they don’t realize that they are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked because they are so focused on their wealth and comfort. He counsels them to find their riches in Jesus, to clothe themselves in His holiness, and to allow God’s truth to open their eyes and heal their spiritual blindness.
Doesn’t that sound like most Christians today? We are holding onto Christ with one hand, and onto the world with the other. Our faith is lukewarm, and Jesus says it literally disgusts Him.
Something that jumped out at me as I read through this chapter was that Jesus told the second-to-last church that He was coming soon, and He told the Laodicean Church that He is standing at the door. He will appear at any moment. How shameful for those of us who profess to be His followers to be caught in a state of spiritual apathy. How devastating to realize that we failed to live up to the standard we embraced when we first followed Him. How short the time we have left to do what we were called to do.
Christians, stand up. Offer this world the cool, refreshing Water of Life that He gives freely to all who will accept it. Be filled to overflowing with the boiling water of your zeal and His power, which will compel you to serve with humility, instruct with power, and personify the fruits of the Spirit, which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.
Be hot or be cold, but whatever you do, do not be lukewarm.