Wonder of God Meditations 4: Retching?
Rev 3:16 “So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
Modern preachers rarely shock. In fact some I’ve observed seek to serve up the most palatable fare possible but that, I have to suggest, is not how Jesus taught – nor the Old Testament prophets. I also suggest that sometimes we skim so fast over scripture that we fail to take in the significance or even the awfulness of what we are reading. This, I believe, is true of the letter to the church in Laodicea but remember this is only the preamble to something amazingly wonderful that we are working towards.
So look what Jesus says here, “I am going to spew you out of my mouth.” Other versions, “I will vomit you out of my mouth.” Yuck! What a picture! One commentator wrote, “Laodicea has the grim distinction of being the only church of which the Risen Christ has nothing good to say.” Bear that in mind this week.
Imagine eating a meal and suddenly you have a piece of rancid meat in your mouth. It is terrible. Your instinctive reaction is to reject it, spit it out. That’s how much this church upsets Christ. But he feels that simply because they are tepid, lukewarm, and that so revolts him he wants to react like spewing out rotten food. And we tolerate luke-warmness!!! Our church is not lukewarm you say? Well is it on fire for God? Is it like that description I put before us yesterday? That is the alternative Jesus says he wants. Truth time!
“I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place,” (Rev 2:5), i.e. I will remove your very church from existence is what Jesus warned the church at Ephesus (John’s own church!) but to this church at Laodicea he speaks of violently getting rid of it, spewing it out. This is a terrible judgment he is speaking about. Consider it. Getting rid of a church violently. What does it actually mean? It must mean that somehow or other this church (all the people gathered as God’s people) will cease to be and the end of this community will come through some violent means. Imagine a serious prophet, with a highly credible reputation, turned up at your church and stood up and declared, “The Lord says unless you repent of your sins he will spew you out of his mouth.” How would you feel? Probably unbelief initially, but as the reality sunk in….. I knew of a prophet who came to one respectable church and warned two squabbling elders, I think it was, “If you don’t repent of your bad attitudes you will be dead by the end of the week.” One repented, the other died. Let’s be honest, we struggle to believe in a holy God who might end this church but that is what is here. More to come.