“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. I wish 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. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” (Rev. 3:15-17)
What just happened? The church in Laodicea was clearly in some serious trouble. Unlike the other churches, Jesus doesn’t commend them for anything, it’s just a firm rebuke. This early church was in spiritual flatline, and they were in complete ignorance of it. Instead of being aware of the spiritual decay, they proclaimed victory and blessing. “Look at us Jesus, we’ve come so far. Our church is extremely successful!” Jesus was not impressed with their wealth, church attendance, or program efficiency. The bottom line is, the church was no longer effective and causing spiritual sickness.
So, what happened? This is a church that would know the Apostle Paul. A church that would know what it meant to be powerfully filled with the Holy Spirit. Apathy and boredom would not have been a characteristic of this church. But here they are now, captured by the lures of complacency and self-sufficiency. It’s unclear why this church became “lukewarm.” Perhaps it was just living life, contending, and apparently succeeding (at least regarding wealth and comfort) that eventually brought on a weariness and spiritual arrogance. Maybe they simply forgot their stories and no longer had a sense of wonder for God.
Whatever the reason, spiritual drift can happen. If we’re not growing in the Lord, then we are going to drift. There is no holding pattern. If this early church could not be an exception to this principle, then neither can you and I. We must be vigilant over the matters of our hearts. We face difficulty, pain, disappointment, confusion, a spiritual enemy that wants to see our destruction. Our hearts are never on the sidelines. They are always on the playing field.
Though Jesus begins with a rebuke, He continues with the mission of restoring all that has been broken. “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.” (Rev 3:20) Even in our apathy, Jesus is still here. When we are weary, Jesus is still here. Though we proclaim self-sufficiency, Jesus is still here. Now, let’s open the door. Let us once again be filled, powerfully, by the Holy Spirit! Let us once again be captured up by the wonder, grace, and love of Jesus! He’s knocking even now. Open the door.