Rebecca Cranford (this is wrote in spoken english to an audience of young students)
Lukewarm and Loving it.
Central Proposition: We must stay on fire for God and not wane cold in our spiritual zeal and Good works.
INTRO: Extremes make us very uncomfortable. Not one of us students enjoys being in a freezing classroom at 9 am in the morning. I mean unless you are like- super disciple, you probably haven’t been awake very long and I am sure your blood is still working its way around your body. We don’t like being cold.
We don’t like being hot either. I recall being 14 on a large passenger bus in Monterrey, Mexico in a traffic jam at high noon. The heat was like a hot fan blowing on your face. There were strange stenches floating up to the opened windows accompanied by the whimpering of various hairless dogs. The effluvium of some ghastly rotting thing-seemed to cause nausea. The heat was so hot, everything seemed to be magnified. My thirst. The noises. THE Smells. I mean it was so hot…and stinky -I think my deodorant melted. Nobody likes to be hot.
WE ALL LIKE TO BE COMFORTABLE
Let’s look at Rev 3:14-22. These peeps over here at Laodicea- man, they were comfortable. I mean they had it all going on. They were rich- ya, know they had these sweet black sheep from whom some pretty fricking cool fabric came from. You could order your cool little skinny black dress from the peeps in Laodicea or maybe get you a killer new peacoat to go with your latte. I mean these peeps had a good deal of money. As a matter of fact, they prided themselves on being rich. There was the horrible earthquake that came through long about 60 AD; like a mad bowling ball-knocked everything down in the whole town. So Rome’s FEMA stepped up to offer some aid. But these peeps were like pshhhhh….we got this. I mean they were prideful and they had some money. This section of Asia was the first to make coins…were Laodicea and Sardis and Colosse was….first to mint coins.
The lands were truly green and beautiful. There were hot springs bubbling over just six miles away from the city. There were refreshing cold springs in Colossae not far, in the other direction. Laodicea was kind of in the middle of the hills- the crossroads of the trade route. This was a great place to be a merchant.
The city was also the place to go if you had a medical issue. I guess it was like the “Mayo Clinic” of ancient near Asia. This dude names Herophilus started a little school of medicine there that in-turn became a cult. The emblem many doctors wear in the service or that is on the side of the EMS vehicles, with the intertwined dual snakes comes from this cult. Supposedly they would let snakes wonder under patient’s beds at night and record their dreams the next day. Non venomous snakes of course. I can imagine getting thirsty in the night and stepping on one of those. Anyways, the city was this place of great medical advancement. Due to all the fertile lands, volcanic activity, and the hot and cold springs of water- there were minerals abounding everywhere. The city is reported to have exported a powdered substance that could be digested or turned into a slave for the eyes. The minerals probably came from some of the springs in the province. The doctors from this town were so famous that some of their names appeared on coins from that day.
Transition: The people were very comfortable. In fact, they had gotten so comfortable with everything; they weren’t really on fire for God anymore. Kind of like the ups and downs of Israel or church history. Israel is faithful then they grow prosperous, then it’s all about the temple (tradition and culture and hierarchy) and not about devotion to God- so God tells them they are going to go to exile by having Jeremiah scream at them. And do they listen? Nope. But they go into exile. And then the suffering comes…and they repent. It’s our cycle isn’t it?
Transition: Kind of like us today In the Great American Church. Whew-hew. Man, we fricking got it all together don’t we? We go to this way cool church, we got the big screen. We are so awesome in our buckle jeans and our $58 dollar afflicted shirt and our emo haircut. And oh my Gosh, this latte is so good. Wow, your iPod rocks yeah look at my ibook, drive my cool car…la la la Church is great. Music is good. La la la we don’t need anything we are so rich. But while we are bobbing are head to the music in our selfish worlds, there’s a man outside on Boulevard with a cardboard sign saying “HUNGRY.” But eh, who cares right- in fact we are hungry too- but we don’t know we are ignorant- but I don’t give the man a second thought. I got to get me some apple-bottom jeans and some boots with the fur. We are so me first, so self-indulgent. BECAUSE WE LIKE TO BE COMFORTABLE
God never intended for us to be comfortable or stagnant or lukewarm.
Transition: In Laodicea they had to cool their water in jars. It came out of the pipe sort of warm. I’m sure it left nasty hard water stains, too. You see, there wasn’t a water source; the aqua came from across the valley in aqueducts. Hot water from Hierapolis. But unfortunately in all their ingenuity, The Romans really had a hard time figuring out insulation. So the water lost its hot hot heat from Hierapolis and became warm. The same from the waters of colossi. Perhaps that cold flow couldn’t make it across the valley several miles without being heated by the midday sun and it too became lukewarm.
Lukewarm water is gross. Stagnant water is gross.
Transition: When I was a little girl in Georgia my grandfather had a farm and he raised beagles. It was such a delight to be there. But some summer days my grandfather would have to empty out the water barrels because mosquitoes had hatched out. There little larva all squiggling all over the place. Nasty stuff. I wonder if sometimes we have mosquitoes in our barrels…this stagnant lukewarm water hasn’t been stirred and it’s starting to stink. The truth is in Laodicea, there were mosquitoes growing in the barrels of their spiritual lives. They weren’t healthy, but disease ridden. They thought they were so great what with their medicine schools- but they were wretched. They thought they were so rich- but they were poor. They were pitiful- and didn’t even know it. Despite dressing so good in their shiny black wool dresses and pea coats they were naked. AND THE SAD THING IS THEY WERE UNAWARE. There spiritual lives of lukewarmness grew bacteria. They were complacent. They didn’t care. They had become comfortably numb-
“When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse,
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone.
I cannot put my finger on it now.
The child is grown, the dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb.”
Transition: We have become comfortably numb. Our American Church is no longer a great hope but a lukewarm sess pool for inculcating culture and tradition. We no longer seek to defend the oppressed, and we don’t even really feel like worshipping God. We just go through these motions. We are so compromising. We have lost are flavor. I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT the sinner I am talking to us saints. We have lost are zeal and we have become lukewarm. God would rather us be ATHEISTS or agnostics than this nominal Christian who breeds contempt in the eyes of the world. Where are the true lovers of Jesus at? Why don’t you rise up oh SONS OF GOD?
But no, we are comfortable. We don’t want to risk being- alienated. Touching a drug addict. Speaking to the homeless man. Hugging a homosexual. and forget suffering, we want prosperity- but mostly we are so busy. After all we have to hurry home from papa johns to catch “the Office.” Oh we love Jesus, let’s just save that for Sunday. And we are comfortable. Lukewarm.
Transition: You are either Hot or you’re not. God addresses the Laodecians. He counsels them. He tells them what they have to do to change their spiritual temperature. He tells us what we have to do to change our own spiritual temperature. Verse 18 states that we need to head to God’s store. We will buy Gold refined by the fire. We need to commit ourselves fully to the Lord. No longer half hearted and lukewarm. We must be willing to risk it all. We trade in our garments- our fancy black wool peacoats or are buckle jeans- who needs them. We will be dressed in white- clothing once reserved for high statesmen in the Roman party, but clothes assigned in heaven to the saints- clothes of purity and righteousness. We got to get God’s “Lasik”- God’s eye salve. He is the only one that can open our eyes and heal them. He is the only one that will let us wake up from the r.e.m. of a half hearted lukewarm existence into a new dawn and real reality.
QUOTE FROM THE MATRIX Morpheus: The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save… You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.
TRANSITION: We have to become zealous and wake up from our complacency and lukewarmness
God chastised those who he loves. You have heard it all before. From your dad when he was bruising your little butt. This hurts me more than it does you. But we learned from that lesson. God teaches us with love. The parent who does not discipline his child is a willing participant in his or her death. God is causing us this pain right now, ‘because he wants us to change.
Transition: We have to Change from our comfortable states.
KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCKING on your hearts door. Jesus is standing here today. And no this is not a call for your salvation. This is a call for him to be truly intimate with you. You are saved already maybe. But you need to get back on fire- You have settled. You do ministry out of obligation instead of passion. You don’t care anymore. Let him rejuvenate YOU with Hot medicinal springs that flow from the Holy Spirit. He wants to come inside. The handle is on your side- You can open if you like. Don’t worry about hiding things in your spiritual house anymore. Don’t kick it all into the hallway closet so the visitor will not see. Jesus already knows where the clutter is. Let him come in.
He’s knocking on your door. No more comfortably. But an adventure. And the end will be Victorious.
Transition: The “Hotties” will see Victory. YEAH I called some of you hotties- yeah. Well, start acting like one . A “Hotty” is someone HOT FOR GOD. Zealous ardent, fervid…maybe a bit PASSIONATE. It’s not wrong to be on fire- I know some of you more pious stoic types are flinching inside right now …But man, be enthusiastic for Christ. And you will overcome.
CONCLUSION: WE MUST STAY ON FIRE FOR GOD AND NOT WANE COLD IN OUR SPIRITUAL ZEAL AND GOOD WORKS. So in closing, I’d like us to reflect over this passage of scripture. Did the spirit of God probe you today? Is he not pounding on your heart’s door? Saints, I have been lukewarm. I have settled for a nominal existence in the past. BUT WHO WANTS THAT. Let’s be zealous. And RUN the race.
What do you think?