Neither hot nor cold

Revelation 3:14-16 is a rich passage for any preacher who fears his congregation is lacking in zeal or dedication to Christ. In these verses, Jesus condemns the church at Laodicea memorably as being “neither hot nor cold,” and warns that because they are “lukewarm” he will “spit” them out of his mouth. Any preacher worth his salt could nail down the points this powerful passage lays out.

What is interesting is that archaeologists have discovered the historical background lying behind the Lord’s powerful declaration on discipleship. The metropolitan center nearest to Laodicea, a town named, Hieropolis, six miles distant, was blessed with extensive hot springs. In an act of civic cooperation, the ancients built an aqueduct that extended from Hieropolis to Laodicea. One can still see the now fallen stones of the aqueduct, complete with hollowed out centers through which the hot water would have been conveyed. But, and you might have guessed this, by the time the water reached its destination, it had cooled from hot to lukewarm!

Now I like my diet soda cold, and my coffee hot, but I like neither lukewarm! The Laodiceans’ unappetizing water system became an effective spiritual illustration for the Lord, who as it turns out is also concerned about half-hearted Christianity.

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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