“Oh ‘spew thee out of my mouth!’”
Marti chose one of my favorite biblical phrases to write about yesterday. Growing up on King James English, at least where the Bible was concerned, this used to be one our favorite sayings among my Christian friends: “Oh ‘spew thee out of my mouth!’” We used it when we were not happy with someone. It’s a phrase that definitely gets your attention. I understand this at a visceral level. I’ll drink coffee hot or iced, but coffee that’s been sitting there for a while and is now at room temperature, or even partially warm, I’ll get it in my mouth and just spit it out. I used to think this verse was about regurgitation, but I think it’s more at an introductory level. God’s relationship with someone with a mediocre commitment is not going to go very far. I think that’s the picture here.
It has to do with taste. God wants to have a relationship with us, but He wants a real relationship. He’ll take us hot or cold, just not in-between. In other words, cold is preferable to lukewarm. Lukewarm is not committed to anything. It’s wishy-washy. It shares elements of both hot and cold, picking what is most convenient at any given time, or, as Marti mentioned, lukewarm takes the most comfortable position.
In George Barna’s most recent survey of Christians in America (Maximum Faith by George Barna), he has found that 82% of those who would claim to be Christians as exhibiting the characteristics of lukewarmness. They may attend church and identify themselves as Christians socially and politically, but their lives do not exhibit any indication that they have been spiritually transformed. As Marti pointed out, they haven’t gone through any suffering or discipline. The Laodicean Christians had not been transformed by the indwelling Christ. Why else would Jesus be outside knocking on the door of their hearts?
That was a true eye-opener for me this time through this passage. I’ve always seen this picture used in an evangelistic way as Christ knocking on the door of an unbeliever’s heart, but these people were believers; they were church goers who were keeping Christ outside of their lives.
Cold is better than lukewarm. I remember something I read once by Martin Luther where he said, in effect, if you’re going to sin, sin mightily. Jesus would rather have you as a cold, sinful pagan than a half-baked Christian.
“Oh ‘spew thee out of my mouth!’” could be the best thing that could happen to a half-baked Christian. At least then, we could find out the truth about ourselves, and open the door.
I don’t agree with the Martin Luther quote. It opens the door to a lot of rationalizations. These Laodiceans were already sinful enough, they just didn’t see it. (“But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked”.) The difference is that it’s easier to get a sinful non-believer to see their need for God than a lukewarm hypocrite.
When I went over the passage yesterday I saw something I never had before. It was obvious the Laodiceans trusted more in financial stability than in God. Jesus, who knows how to be all things to all people knew that these well-to-do types are always interested in buying things so He played the roll of a sales person. ” I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see”. But at what cost? Self-sacrifice and denial. A true surrender to God’s Will for them will heat these lukewarm believers up!
For as long as I know people have been saying that out of all 7 churches mentioned in Revelation 2&3, the Laodicean church best describes the church in America today. It was true decades ago and still today.
I enjoyed reading Today’s Catch..
I always see this passages primarily as referring to trusting the Lord and being satisfied in him rather than depending on ourselves and being apathetic towards the matters of the kingdom. Both cold and hot water were seen as a good things in Laodicea, their water supply was lukewarm, drinking either cold or hot water meant taking action; and the Lord mentions their indifference and dependance on money.
Another survey revealed that 50% of millennial christians think it’s wrong to share their faith, this apathy towards the kingdom and inability to see the richness of the gospel is what I believe lukewarm means.