bellevue blog

knocking at the door

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.’”

A lack of clarity can lead to fear. We’ve seen this played out the past few weeks when leaders spoke on COVID-19 with generalities—failing to provide information as to what the real risk is and what should be done. Thankfully, other leaders, doctors, and scientist have spoken with remarkable clarity. In doing so, they’ve helped encourage appropriate action and avoid unnecessary anxiety.

 

A similar fear can arise when Christians lack clarity about what it means to be a “lukewarm Christian.” No Christian wants to be described this way and rightfully so. There is a healthy amount of fear we should feel regarding the possibility being a lukewarm Christian. But at what point does that fear become paralyzing and unbiblical? How do we not give in to hopeless despair, assuming we’re likely lukewarm ourselves?

 

We do so by reading about who Jesus called lukewarm: the church in Laodicea.

Avoid Self-Reliance

Revelation 3:14–22 begins with several descriptions of Jesus which again establish His supremacy and right to commend and condemn. For the church in Laodicea, Jesus gives no commendation. He speaks with grave severity.

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.’”

If you didn’t understand before, surely you now can see why this passage can instill fear. Much can be discussed regarding these verses, but we’re going to focus in on why Jesus spoke so harshly toward this church and what steps we can take to avoid being condemned by Jesus in a similar fashion. With that in mind, let’s keep reading.

“Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked…”

From this, we quickly begin to gain an understanding of why this church was in need of serious correction—they had become self-reliant! Blinded by their financial security, they believed they had no needs at all. They failed to see that even with no pressing earthly needs, they still had spiritual needs because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And while the church in Laodicea may have known that truth at one point, they eventually forgot. They no longer depended on Christ intimately. As a result, they lost the unique fire that only the Holy Spirit can bring. They became lukewarm.

Combat Deception

The takeaway seems obvious at this point: don’t be self-reliant. And while that is true, the complexity revealed in this passage is it’s not that easy because we are easily deceived. The second half of the verse we just read reveals a new level of their lukewarmness. The church in Laodicea didn’t even recognize their lack of reliance on God. They were deceived! It took Jesus calling them out, saying you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.”

It’s tempting to sit here in the 21st Century and shake our heads in disappointment at the church in Laodicea. But the danger of deception is that you don’t know when you’re being deceived. Satan is the great deceiver, our world misguides us, and we lie even to ourselves. We shouldn’t assume that we are above being deceived.

But we also shouldn’t roll over and assume there’s nothing we can do. We can set up safeguards to minimize our likelihood of being deceived and becoming lukewarm like the church in Laodicea. We can read the Bible and let it have authority over us and our actions. We can develop godly friendships and allow those people to speak boldly into the areas of our lives that we try to keep hidden. We can pray and develop intimacy with Jesus, opening ourselves up to the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

Always Hope

There’s no guaranteed, fool-proof way to never be deceived ever again. But even if we are deceived, even if we become self-reliant, lukewarm Christians (God, let it not be so!), there will still be hope in Christ.

“I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Jesus hadn’t given up on the lukewarm church of Laodicea. He strongly rebuked them, but He also continued to knock at their door. He still wanted to enter. What a merciful, gracious God we serve!

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