Would that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:14-16
That is a decidedly unpleasant prospect. We all have times when we say, “This makes me want to throw up!” But we hate doing it. Christ takes it one unpleasant step further. “I will spew you out of my mouth.” He says I will, not I might. And He means vomit. Not surprisingly, not even the most avant-garde artist has ever depicted The Nauseated Christ on canvas or in stained glass. What house of worship would have it?
Perhaps it would serve the church well to congregate around a body of stagnant water made shallow and tepid by the same blistering sun that makes people crazed with thirst. Perhaps we should kneel and cup our hands and after dipping in, force the vile liquid down our parched throat. Perhaps we should reel and retch with the stark realism of the bitterly displeased Christ of Revelation. (Part 1 of 2)
Comment: Is there a way to dance around such a jarring text? Does it even ring true for the Jesus we may have inadvertently domesticated in our comfortable church ways? Historians and scholars offer fascinating facts that leave us feeling smart, not stung. The seven churches scrutinized by the Spirit existed in what is modern-day Turkey. Named for their geographical locations, they were strategically located along a major Roman road in the first century AD. Laodicea, the ancient capital of Phrygia, had gained wealth through trade and banking. It was renowned for its medical school and for producing costly fabrics. Jews from Phrygia were present at Pentecost when they heard Peter preach in their own language. In today’s Turkey, 85-90% of the population follows Sunni Islam, while 0.2% are Christians or other officially recognized religions like Judaism. Four of the seven churches receiving a letter from John got both a thumbs-up and a reprimand from Jesus. He only had words of comfort and support for the persecuted believers in Smyrna and Philadelphia. The hammer came down hard on Laodicea. There is a consensus among Bible scholars that the local church there also represents the present church age – the last one before Christ’s Second Coming. That’s a sobering thought! The Laodiceans smugly boasted of their great wealth, prized textile industry, and a famous, widely-sought eye salve. Their swollen public pride was reflected in a citizenry fat with individual self-importance. Christ’s blistering condemnation must have come as a complete shock. The words drip with biting sarcasm in a litany of “revelation” that insists that the church doesn’t even realize how “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” they are. Yes, it does sound more like “our” Jesus when He concludes that it is His love for them that prompts such sharp rebuke and expects swift repentance. Moreover, who else would end it with a simply stunning invitation? “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” Did John’s heart skip a beat as he remembered being the “beloved disciple” who leaned against Christ’s chest while eating the Passover meal with Him? Or did he wince as he recalled the contempt heaped on Him by the religious elite for eating with “publicans and sinners”?