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."
Observe the Context
In His letter to the church of Laodicea, Jesus warns us about the danger of self-sufficiency. Laodicea was a wealthy banking center and proud of her rich resources. In AD 60, the city was destroyed by an earthquake. Rather than accepting aid from the Roman Empire, the people of Laodicea refused any help and rebuilt the city themselves with their own resources. They did not need anyone’s charity.
Yet, while Laodicea appeared to have everything, it actually lacked the most basic of resources — water. Unlike the mountain towns that had cold water streams or nearby Hierapolis that had access to hot springs, Laodicea had no water supply of its own. Water had to be piped in through aqueducts. By the time it arrived, the water was lukewarm and full of sediment. Cold water is good for drinking, hot springs were reputed to have healing qualities, but lukewarm, sediment-filled water neither refreshes nor heals. It is disgusting.
Jesus tells the Laodicean church that they are just like their water. “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” (Rev. 3:15–16). (Legioner Ministry)
Reflect on the Application to My Life
We often confuse the interpretation of this passage. We think hot is good and cold is bad. We think of hot like "being on fire" for Jesus. We think of being "cold" as being distant and spiritually dead. The only problem with the modern analogies is that they were not what the writer was intending them to mean. We see that in the explanation above.
So what does it mean? The Laodieans were complacent. Even after the earthquake, they were self-sufficient and prideful. Despite their efforts to manufacture their own water, it was lukewarm. Despite their riches Jesus says to the church, "Do you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked?"
So the question for us today is are we lukewarm Christians? Have we become so reliant on ourselves that we are neither hot nor cold, but tepid? Cold and hot water had a significant purpose in the first century. Cold water brought refreshment and revitalization. Hot water had healing qualities for all kinds of ailments. But lukewarm water had neither quality and was virtually worthless. God wants to use each of us for a specific part in his plan of salvation. Our greatest privilege in life is to be used by him to further his kingdom coming on earth before Jesus returns
Interestingly Jesus wants them to change. He rebukes them because he wants them to be relevant again and in a good relationship with him. Here the grace in his offer and invitation to the Laodiceans,
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.