Give me that glass of milk that’s been sitting out for four hours…says no one.
I tried that on Sunday for a sermon illustration. My hope was that the milk would still be “cool” because I had it in a Tervis Tumbler. Nope.
As soon as the milk hit my tongue my immediate reflex was to spit it back into the cup.
The words of Jesus to the church at Laodicea in Revelation 3:14-22 are terrifying. At least they are to me.
Verses 15-16 are most well known: “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth” (ESV).
Francis Chan rocked the church world with his sermon on this text back in 2006. I think this text should cause pause for many of us today.
In the end, will my life be taken up by the Lord and sipped, only to be spewed out right away, just as my reflexes caused me to do with that lukewarm milk?
It’s a hard word. There is no way to work in the Greek and soften it up or allegorize it.
Jesus provided a tangible illustration for the church, just as he does in the Gospels with other illustrations. There were hot springs about five miles north of Laodicea that would dump into the Lycra River and travel towards Laodicea. But by the time the waters reached the city, they weren’t hot any longer. They were tepid. Lukewarm.
So in the text it’s not that cold is bad and hot is good, as if Jesus is saying he would rather you be cold–pure evil–than lukewarm. Sometimes you want a really cold drink. Sometimes you want a hot drink. So be one of those extremes. But don’t be the glass of milk that sits out at room temperature.
If you’re in that nebulous temperature range, then “be zealous and repent” (v.19). Turn from darkness to light. Let your repentance be like a bucket of ice dumped on you to cool you down or like a kettle being set on the burning hot eye of the stove. Jesus is the one knocking on the door. You didn’t go seeking after him. He’s coming after you.