What would make Jesus want to spit or gag? That's an image I'd rather not have in my mind. But it's one we can't ignore. Revelation 3:16 says,
So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
G.J. Wenham's New Bible Commentary provides some helpful background info. on this passage spoken to the church at Laodicea:
The terms cold, hot and lukewarm are likely to relate to waters around and in Laodicea. Nearby Hierapolis was famed for it's hot springs; Colosse, also near at hand, was noted for a cold, clear stream of excellent drinking water. Since, however, the River Lycus dried up in the summer, Laodicea had to use a long viaduct for its water, which was not only tepid but impure and sometimes foul, making people sick. The church of that city had that effect on Christ -- a vivid and horrifying picture of judgment (emphasis mine).
I think it's pretty clear that those whom Jesus describes as lukewarm have no warrant in believing they are saved. In fact, they make Jesus so sick that he is about to hurl them out of his mouth. A horrifying picture of judgment indeed! So, what does a lukewarm person look like and can this person escape the judgment of God?
Francis Chan, in chapter 4 of his book, Crazy Love, gives a "Profile of the Lukewarm." He lists 10 different characteristics, but I'll just share 3 that jolted me.
1) Lukewarm people are moved by stories about people who do radical things for Christ, yet they do not act. They assume such action is for “extreme” Christians, not average ones. These people call “radical” what Jesus expected of all of his followers.
2) Lukewarm people rarely share their faith with their neighbors, coworkers, or friends. They do not want to be rejected, nor do they want to make people uncomfortable by talking about private issues like religion.
3) Lukewarm people are continually concerned with safety and comfort. This focus on safe living keeps them from sacrificing and risking for God.
This is challenging and soul-searching. It should cause us to examine our lives to see if our love for God is really genuine. However, Chan is quick to point out that "we are all messed up human beings, and no one is totally immune to the behaviors described in the previous examples."
One thing Chan doesn't mention in his profile of the lukewarm is what I believe to be the central point of this passage (Rev. 3:14-22). We must remember that Christ's warning of drifting into this nauseating condition like the Laodiceans is meant to lead us to repentance. In verse 19-20, we see the same Jesus, in the previous verses ready to spit people out of his mouth, now standing at the doorstep of our lives offering us fellowship with him if we would repent. But our repentance must be real and our peserverance must continue if we intend to share in his kingdom in the age to come.
Challenging stuff! And I pray we would take it to heart! I welcome your reflections and thoughts on this thought-provoking chapter.