If you are like me, you enjoy being comfortable. Like me, you probably use hot and cold beverages to help keep you comfortable during the temperature swings encountered in day-to-day life. A lukewarm beverage does not help much with these temperature swings and usually receives one of three things – a trip to the microwave, ice or a trip down the drain.
In addition, if you are like me, you probably use hot and cold service to our Lord and Savior to help keep yourself spiritually comfortable. After all, being too “hot” spiritually might upset our neighbor and being too “cold” spiritually might upset our fellow parishioner. While the opposite may also be true, the point is that this effort to remain spiritually comfortable often results in our becoming spiritually lukewarm, and that is a dangerous place to reside.
God directed the author of Revelation to write to the church in Laodicea with these words found in Revelation 3:14-19 (NIV):
14"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. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, `I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 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.
19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20 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 him, and he with me.”
Now being hot or being cold denotes faith in action. Being cold does not necessary point to a disbelief in God, but rather an active life of faith that denies the salvation won through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Being hot points to a life devoted to active service in Christ Jesus that celebrates our salvation.
Paul knew these two extremes well. Paul (then Saul), being raised by a Pharisee (Acts 23:6 NIV) to be a Pharisee, knew scripture and the “law” well, but he did not know the Messiah. Being “cold”, he placed his faith and action into the teachings of the Pharisees and spent a great deal of energy persecuting the new Christian church.
In Paul’s zealousness for the law and a “righteous” way of life, God found the action-oriented man He wanted for the job of taking the Gospel to the Gentiles. God turned Saul into Paul on the road to Damascus and used Paul’s zealousness for His purposes and to His glory. Paul, now understanding God’s Love, allowed Love to fan the flames of his ministry into a “hot” wildfire that swept across the Gentile world to the glory of God.
The church in Laodicea, here described as lukewarm, points to those who sit back and enjoy the blessings poured out upon their lives while ignoring the mission of the church. They placed their trust in their own wealth and it lulled them into belief devoid of action, causing them to become lukewarm in their faith. In essence, they became spiritually lukewarm.
Being comfortable is one of satan’s best tricks. When we are comfortable, we are lulled into a smugness that believes in God but has no action that proves our faith is alive (James 3:26). Because of His love for this church, God rebuked their lukewarm spiritual attitude and called this church to repentance.
God is action-oriented and “…God is love” (1 John 4:8 NIV). Therefore, love is action-oriented. God counsels us to take action in love for one another, even if the action is as simple as giving a glass of water to a child (Matthew 10:42 NIV). Loving one another carries out His will (John 13:34 NIV) and is the key to fanning the flame of the Gospel into a wildfire that will conclude the mission of the church.
May God fan the flame of His Love in our hearts into “hot” service for His glory. Amen.
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