It has been said visiting a gym and watching others workout doesn't make a person fit - makes sense. Similarly, sitting in a church watching others labor to make disciples doesn't make someone a Christian. When and why did the fire go out and leave some of some so lukewarm? The Prophet Jeremiah knew and understood that the where the Spirit of the Lord abides, there is passion, commitment, and an all-consuming flame. Consider the words as he uses to describe God, “like a fire shut up in my bones…” Where there is fire, there is transformation.
If you think lukewarm isn't a big deal try drinking tepid tea or coffee; it’s disgusting. Eggs that have cooled to point of congealing are gross. Lukewarm bathwater doesn't inspire one to linger; we either turn on the hot water or get out of the tub. If we as people find lukewarm things unacceptable, what makes us think God will accept halfhearted praise and lip-service? The simple fact is: He won't. Consider:
To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. 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.*
An interesting factoid about Laodicea, despite its affluence, the city had an issue with its water supply. The aqueduct that brought water from a nearby spring apparently didn't work as intended; by the time the water reached the city it was a lukewarm. John juxtaposes the citizens with the water supply – not coolly refreshing or scalding hot – simply bland. Laodicea exists today; it is found everywhere and anywhere people have forgotten their mission: making disciples of Jesus Christ.
The warning is clear:Christians who believe they can ‘hide in plain sight’ and commit themselves in appearance only are deceiving themselves. God is not amused by or impressed with this behavior. The way of the Cross is characterized by service, sacrifice, and pointing others to the Way that leads to life eternal.
Jesus ends His admonition with a message of hope and reconciliation:
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.**
Oh, that we would hear His voice and heed His words! He calls to leave our places of comfort and complacency and be about Kingdom work. May we burn brightly so that others see and are drawn into the light of God's transforming grace.
Amen and amen.
*Revelation 3:14-17, 3:20 – New International Version