Neither Hot nor Cold

By Pastor Teck Uy

In his letter to the church in Laodicea, the Lord Jesus Christ could not say anything good. After thoroughly examining the church, he told them, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (Rev. 3:15-16). Perhaps Jesus expected them to be like the hot spring in the nearby city of Hierapolis and provide healing to those who were spiritually sick, or the cold water of Colosse and provide spiritual refreshment to those who were spiritually weary. Rather, they were found to be lukewarm and thus, not good for anything. Jesus’ use of “hot” and “cold” could also denote the spiritual temperature of the believers. He wished that they either served God or not at all, because ultimately, our choice is that we are either with him or against him. Likewise, the Book of Revelations emphasizes that one should either be hot or cold when it says, “Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy” (Rev. 22:11).

The church in Laodicea boasted, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing” (Rev. 3:17). Their pride in being rich could have brought them to their condition of being lukewarm. Oftentimes, it is the realization of a need that causes us to draw close to God and be dependent on him. However, once we have reached a level of comfort and are no longer as desperate as before, we become lukewarm in our relationship with the Lord and tend to depend on what we have, rather than depending on him.  While the church was indeed materially blessed, Jesus saw them as wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. For this reason, he rebuffed them for their pride, saying, “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” (v. 18). By these words, Jesus belittled their material riches and whatever they were holding onto as source of their confidence, such as gold, clothing and medicines. True riches come from the Lord, for these satisfy not only our material needs, but our spiritual needs, as well.

Our lives are like gold. Job said, “When he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job. 23:10). The Lord uses life’s challenges and afflictions to purify us, just as gold is purified through fire. Needless to say, these afflictions are not meant to destroy us, but to remove impurities in us so that we become stronger and more faithful followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, we should never resist all the tests that the Lord will send our way. We should go through them, confident that the Lord is with us. Likewise, there is a need for us to live a life of purity that we may glorify the Lord. We should always be conscious that we are carrying the name of Jesus. No one should bring dishonour to him by the way he lives his life. While we know how to live as believers, many cannot live victoriously, because the spirit of this world has blinded them. They need spiritual enlightenment for them to see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

While Jesus used strong words to rebuke the church in Laodicea, he did it for a reason. He said, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent” (Rev. 3:19). Everything that Jesus did and said was driven by his sincere love. He did not want that any should perish, but for all to overcome the works of the devil and be saved. Because the church had become lukewarm, it lost its fellowship with the Lord. As part of the repentance, the church needed to go back to the Lord with a contrite heart. Jesus made this return back to him easy when he said, “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 him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20). Jesus is waiting for us and all that we need to do is to open the door of our hearts. Our lost relationship will be restored completely, as evidenced by the close relationship we will have with him—dining with him. Friends, it is time for us to evaluate our Christian life. Have we turned cold towards the Lord? It is time to repent and go back to him. We cannot afford to be lukewarm before the Lord, for he will spit us out. Therefore, let us turn up our spiritual thermostat and keep ourselves hot before the Lord. Let us also bring healing to those who are spiritually sick, just like the hot spring of Hierapolis, and refresh those who are spiritually weary, like the cold stream of Colosse. Hallelujah!