Heads up…the basis for this post is a bodily function that most people (myself included) find disgusting. So be forewarned….
Earlier this week I was sick. I don’t mean I wasn’t feeling well or my tummy hurt; I was sick. Violently sick. And, as suggested above, it was disgusting. As I was lying in bed contemplating the reality of my situation, two things went through my mind. One, it boggles my mind to think that there are people who voluntarily and intentionally put themselves through that regularly by drinking too much. Any pleasure or good-feeling that comes from drinking a lot would surely be negated by the time spent over the toilet, in my opinion. Two, Scripture makes it clear that lukewarm Christians make God want to vomit, and that should provoke some serious thought and self-reflection.
In the early chapters of Revelation John presents his vision of the churches and the message for those churches from God. While those churches are in literal places, they are also examples, I believe, of the statuses churches today might be in, and since churches are made up of people, the messages to the churches are also messages to believers. Specifically, to the church in Laodicea, in Revelation 3:15-16, John writes, “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth'” (ESV). Most translations use the more acceptable words “spit” or “spew,” but the Holman Christian Standard Bible uses “vomit.” The Message presents it this way: “You make me want to vomit!” The Voice also uses “vomit.” The Message and The Voice, of course, are not translations; they present the ideas of Scripture in every day easy-to-understand language but are not particularly concerned with maintaining accuracy with the original wording. Young’s Literal Translation, however, also uses “vomit”: “So — because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to vomit thee out of my mouth.”
So what would cause God to want to vomit? John made it clear; being lukewarm. God does not have any tolerance for Christians who are trying to be godly and worldy. John stated clearly that God would prefer cold to lukewarm; why? Because at least those who are cold have made a commitment and are not faking it. The way I read and understand John 3 is that the church at Laodicea probably said all the right things and went through all the right motions and probably looked quite spiffy to anyone who was watching, but it was mostly just for show. Like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, they were white-washed sepulchers. Their religion was, as James wrote in James 1:26, “worthless.” Their services were probably well attended and well scripted and impressive. If they had a church bulletin it was probably full of all of “the right stuff.” But when they were away from the church, those Laodiceans were much like the world, doing their thing, doing what worked or was convenient or made them happy. They probably had strong words for those they encountered who were “cold” toward God, and probably considered themselves to be “hot,” at least on Sunday mornings. But the reality is, in God’s eyes they were disgusting, and they made him want to throw up.
Unfortunately, I can think of something even more disgusting than that…and that’s just how often the term “Laodicean” might be accurately be applied to me.