I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or
hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of
my mouth (Rev.3:15-16).
There is a broad area that lies somewhere between one
extreme and another. Take the water temperature gauge on a car's dashboard for instance;
on the one end there is a "C" for cold and to at the other end there is an
"H" for hot. That which is in the middle might sometimes be labeled as normal
and therefore does not raise any feelings of alarm or uneasiness if the needle remains in
that area. But let the needle sit at the maximum cold or the maximum hot and those who
look on might become somewhat uncomfortable and find themselves continuously and
cautiously watching the gauge and hoping to see it return to a normal state of operation.
Revelation 3:15-16 comes from a passage wherein Jesus is speaking concerning the church of
the Laodiceans. He compares their state to that of lukewarm water, which when drank would
cause one to spew the water out because it is neither hot nor cold. Evidently, they were
not a people who were excited about God and His work, or a people passionate concerning
the Kingdom of God. Perhaps they were a people who showed very little interest in a
spiritual life at all, but were content to go through the motions of doing church as
though to fulfill a religious obligation.
The Laodiceans were also a people who were not completely turned away from God. They did
not openly and outwardly defy God and His righteousness. For if they had been cold to God
perhaps there would have been some anger, bitterness or distrust regarding God for one
reason or another. Yet it seems obvious that they were not angry at God, and it is also
apparent that they were not passionate toward Him. Instead they were somewhere in the
middle--having no real feelings whatsoever. It was probably an intellectual faith more
than one of the heart.
The amazing thing about being somewhere in the middle is that it is something that seems
to make everyone else more comfortable. It's like the water temperature gauge--let it
remain in the "normal" state and those who look on are settled and feel
comfortable to proceed as usual--but let it go to either extreme and there will be a lot
of troubled onlookers who will be trying to find a way to get things back to the more
comfortable, "normal" state.
If someone is "too hot" in regard to God then "they are not
realistic." They are seen to speak of faith in a fanciful way and are viewed as
persons more led by unpredictable emotions than by rational thinking. The
"normal" dwellers look at them as fanatics who have good intentions, but are
expected to settle into the normal state over time. So those who are truly passionate for
God may be seen as "going through a phase" that will soon pass.
On the other hand, if a person is "too cold," well, first of all they probably
won't be in church to begin with. And if they are at church, they probably won't stay for
very long. For they are those who do not agree with us or believe in what we stand for.
They do not fall into the norm, and we really don't believe a lot of them ever will--but
we hope some day they might.
Now consider the gas gauge--it is seen as at its best when it is at one extreme, and only
one--"full." It may be seen as all right if it lies somewhere between the
extremes, but we know that the best place is always at the one end--and we begin to worry
if it gets too close to the other.
If only our churches could be more like the gas gauge instead of the water gauge. Perhaps
then we would encourage our members to be filled, rather than holding them back from going
too far so to keep them at a level that makes the rest of us comfortable. If we could only
see ourselves as gas gauges, then we would all be motivated to return and be filled when
we see our needle moving downward, and we would find our greatest comfort when we are
When Jesus explained to us that we should take up a cross and follow Him, and give up
every attachment to everything and everyone, He was clearly encouraging us toward an
extreme. An extreme wherein we would indeed find true comfort, and an extreme in which we
would truly experience the fullness of God's Person, Purpose and Kingdom.