Lukewarm Disgusting, pt. 8 (end of Revelation series… for now)

Revelation 3:14-22

Laodicea was a prosperous city, known for being a center of trade and communication between other Roman cities. Much of its wealth came from production of glossy, raven black wool from local sheep (dyed or original unknown) as well as from its school of medicine, known for “Phrygian Powder” used to help cure eye and ear defects. In A.D. 60 an earthquake rocked the city destroying many of the buildings. The extent of the city’s affluence was that it rebuilt on the wealth of its own citizens, without the help of the Roman government.

Jesus is disgusted with lukewarm Christianity.
Laodicea certainly had wealth and prosperity. It had money, technology, power, influence; all the outward signs of productivity and success. Yet, inwardly it was empty and wasting away. With the entire city’s independent wealth it was not as self-sufficient as it might have desired. The city did not have its own water supply and had to pipe water in from 2 closer cities, 6 miles north from Hierapolis which was known for its therapeutic hot springs and 10 miles east from Colosse, which was known for its cold, pure drinking water. By the time the water reached Laodicea it arrived lukewarm. Jesus used this as an illustration for how the Laodicean church was uselessly lukewarm, neither providing healing for the spiritually sick (hot springs) or refreshment for the spiritually weary (cold water). Their lukewarm spirituality made Jesus want to vomit! By continuing to look at Jesus’ criticism against the Laodicean church one can understand the dangers of lukewarm Christianity.

Lukewarm Christianity is useless; so change!
Jesus told the Laodiceans he wished they were either cold or hot but they were neither. They were of no use to him or to others, therefore it required a change. Laodicea had undergone various outward changes yet still leaving them empty. They needed an internal change, inward repentance resulting in total transformation (v.19). Christians were not created to be useless or spectators, they were created to express and demonstrate the beauty and character of God throughout the world.
Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
James 2:26 “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.”
John 15:2, 5, 8 “Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit… I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing… By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”
Romans 6:13b “… present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.”

Lukewarm Christianity is self-absorbed; so serve!
Jesus chastised the Laodiceans for allowing their wealth to cloud their desperation for God and service toward those in need. They settled for the complacency of being rich in the world rather than rich in eternity (Matthew 6:19-21, Isaiah 55:2). In reality, Jesus says they were wretched (miserable and utterly hopeless – same word in Romans 7:24; 1 Corinthians 15:19), spiritually bankrupt, blind and without direction and shamefully exposed being naked before a holy God.
In other words, they had grown arrogant and prideful over their achievements without recognizing these as the blessing of a gracious God. As James said, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights” (1:17). Material prosperity does not equate spiritual prosperity. Wealth and riches are given by God to be stewards of those resources for the advancement of the gospel, not personal gain. When a person recognizes God as the source of blessing they cannot help but give back to God and toward the needs of others. Serving others helps a person see beyond selfishness to real needs in the lives of others. In fact, this is why Jesus came saying, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
Likewise, students can be self-absorbed. Reports say teens are responsible for $80 billion and quite materialistic[1]. They can be externally wealthy with loads of material possessions, wearing brand name clothing and perfect eye sight YET emotionally & spiritually bankrupt, morally naked and without sight or direction for life. The best solution to this is allowing students to see reality beyond their own me-centered world.

Lukewarm Christianity is God-absent; so surrender!
Lastly, the Laodicean’s had placed God at arms-length. Jesus is somehow standing outside the church knocking on the door to enter. It is an amazing thought that a church that makes Jesus want to vomit is the same church Jesus is graciously pursuing to associate with. Notice that Jesus is not simply knocking on the door but he appears to be talking (shouting?) from the outside for those inside to hear his voice and open the door. He is doing everything in his power for the Laodiceans to not miss his presence in their life. His rebuke and discipline is for their good in hope they will repent and return to living for Jesus. They must surrender and open the door to allow Jesus to sit on the throne in their life as the Lord.

·What things are not good lukewarm but that would be good if they were cold or hot?
·What does it mean to be spiritually lukewarm? How do the three characteristics describe lukewarm spirituality (put it in your own words)?
·What makes you vomit? (Students may talk about bad food but allow them to discuss what seriously sickens them inwardly. This may open some vulnerable discussion) What actions or attitudes do you think make Jesus want to vomit?
·Describe what it means to be self-absorbed? Do you know anyone or any group like this? Why is this something negative? How does serving others help you to put your own needs in the proper perspective?
·Why does God allow some people to have wealth and others not? What is the purpose of wealth and material blessings?
·How can a church or person continue with all its activity (events, relationships, schedules and deadlines) yet God not be a part of it, being on the outside looking in? How does this happen? How do you know when it happens? What do you do to reverse this happening?

[1] See “The Teens Market in the US”.

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