Neither hot nor cold

Revelation 3:14-16 is the classic Bible passage on half-hearted Christianity. Any preacher who is concerned his congregation lacks zeal for the Lord might choose this passage as his text for a sermon. Here the Lord memorably condemns the church at Laodicea for being “neither hot nor cold,” they were instead, “lukewarm.” He further warns them that this distasteful condition will cause him to “spit” them out of his mouth.

Interestingly it seems the Lord was reflecting an urban reality in that location. Several of the seven churches he addresses in Revelation chapters 2-3 indicate this. Archaeologists have discovered that the nearby town of Hieropolis, six miles distant, was blessed with extensive hot springs.

In an act of civic cooperation they constructed an aqueduct that extended from Hieropolis to Laodicea. You can still see the hollowed out stones, now lying on the ground that once formed this structure. With the hot water flowing through the cold stone conduit, however, the result you might expect took place: By the time the water reached its destination in Laodicea, it had cooled from hot to lukewarm! One senses that the residents of Laodicea would have recognized the reference to the distasteful lukewarm water in their town, and understand the point the Lord was making about the genuineness of their 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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