To the Church in Laodicea
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 that person, and they with me.
21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Laodicea is the other church where Jesus gives a pretty strong rebuke. Traditionally this has been used as a phrase that means "hot is good" and "cold is bad". We have all heard the term he or she is an "on fire" Christian. And cold often has the connotation of being "distant" or a cool. But if you know the historical context, there were "hot springs that were used for healing, and "cold springs" provided drinking water. So the problem was that even though were doing good deeds they, weren't useful for the kingdom.
They had become materially prosperous due to their location and resources they had at their disposal, but their gold would eventually perish. Their new clothes would eventually soil. Even the "salve" they produced, though it provided temporary healing, would not heal the soul. God's salve allowed people to really see. To see who they are, and to see who Jesus is. Jesus' salve helps us to see with God's eyes, and what is truly useful and that will last eternally.
So though Jesus' words may seem like a rebuke, he reminds them that it is out of his love that he brings these challenging words. Far from telling them this from some distant ivory tower, he says that he "knocks on the door". He wants to come in and "sup" with them. This means a deep level of fellowship Jewish families enjoyed together. Jesus wants to come in and eat them. As they stay connected to him, they can be truly useful and fulfill their unique purpose. Hot and cold are different but both useful. We are all different, but the evil one's greatest temptation is to move us away from usefulness to being "lukewarm".
God has made us for good deeds. He offers us gold refined on the fire, clothes made white by Jesus, and "salvation" for the healing for our soul. As we use these great gifts he has given us, we can overcome, be victorious, and inherit the treasure God has laid up for us in heaven.