Sunday, May 10, 2015

Does God Want You to Be Cold?

In Revelation chapter 3, Jesus addressed the church of Laodicea, and it's not a good report.   Jesus tells them that He wishes they were either hot or cold,  but they are lukewarm.   I don't want to address the lukewarm part,  I think Francis Chan handled that beautifully,  you can find his comments on YouTube.   Instead I want to address the hot/cold thing.

The general interpretation is that Jesus wants the church to be either hot,  on fire for Him,  or cold,  not wanting anything to do with Him.  I don't think this is a position that we have fully thought through. Does God really want us to be indifferent towards Him?

I read through quite a few commentaries and studies which agreed with this view,  but it didn't make sense to me that Jesus would wish for His church to out right reject Him.   I understand that being lukewarm is bad,  they will be spewed from His mouth,  but Jesus encourages them to be cold?   I think there is something missing.

What I have found is what happens often.   We are looking at this verse from a strictly textual interpretation and superimposed our meaning on it.   There are geographical implications to consider.  Where is Laodicea,  what is happening around it,  why would Jesus use these terms?   What is the deal with being hot or cold?

I found some help online,  I came across this from March 5 2013 Sparking Gem From the Greek by Rick Renner:

The city of Laodicea was built in a region that was full of seismic activity and had experienced many earthquakes. As often happens in a seismic area, vents came up from the depths of the earth, allowing boiling hot water to reach the surface. In the nearby city of Hierapolis, these hot springs were famous. People came from great distances to bathe in those waters, believing they had medicinal powers. An experience in those waters was viewed to be therapeutic and effective in improving one's health.

Another city named Colosse was not too far away. As Hierapolis was known for its hot springs, Colosse was known for its cold waters. Just as people journeyed to Hierapolis to bathe in the hot springs for health purposes, people would travel great distances to vacation in Colosse, where they could invigorate themselves by taking frequent dips into the famous, refreshing, cool-to-freezing waters of that city.

Laodicea may have been the biggest and richest city in the area, but it had neither hot nor cold water. Therefore, the people of Laodicea had to leave their luxurious homes and travel to Colosse if they wanted to enjoy fresh, cool water. On the other hand, those who desired to soak in the hot springs had to travel six miles to Hierapolis.

Once in an attempt to bring the hot water from Hierapolis to Laodicea, a huge construction project was commenced. The goal of those who initiated the project was to build pipes that would channel the hot water six miles from Hierapolis to the city of Laodicea. The pipes effectively delivered the water - a real feat of construction at that time. Sadly, however, the water lost its heat along the way. By the time the water reached Laodicea, it was not only lukewarm, but it had developed a sickening, nauseating taste. The taste was so revolting that no one wanted to drink it!

It's so awesome how the Bible uses real places to give illustrations.   The people of Laodicea would understand this analogy because they lived right in the middle of it.   They understood how the hot water relaxed people and the cold water refreshed people and the lukewarm water repulsed people.  

Jesus wants you to serve Him and to be relaxing or refreshing,  notnot revolting. Have you ever met a self-righteous and arrogant Christian? Someone who wears you out and brings you down?   Don't be that guy,  be refreshing or relaxing,  soothe and encourage people.   Hot is useful,  cold is useful,  lukewarm is just disgusting.

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