A fly in my mouth

Confession: I drink a lot of tea. Not hot tea–I seldom drink that. I drink a lot of what some people call iced tea, though I rarely have ice cubes in it. Oh, and I cannot stand unsweetened tea; it has to be sweet tea. Don’t even think about offering me unsweetened tea with sugar packets either, because it is not even close to the same thing. I drink tea at home, I drink tea at work and sometimes–if they can get it right–I drink tea at restaurants. Nowadays I actually drink quite a bit of green tea, which is supposedly healthier, but it’s still sweet.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I was sitting in a chair in my living room reading a book. I had a glass of tea on a coaster next to me. I stood up to go do something and when I did I also picked up my glass of tea and took a drink. When I did, though, I became immediately aware that something had just entered my mouth besides tea. I did not get a real great feel for it but it was rather solid and certainly should not have been in my tea–and the first thing I wanted to do was spit it out. As I was standing in the middle of the living room I knew this would not be wise, so I managed to not spew the tea across the room. I did however spit it into my hand as a beat feet toward the kitchen sink. When I did so I looked into my cupped hand to see, floating in the little pool of brown tea, a fly.

Now, I hate flies…and I mean that literally. I truly, genuinely, deeply hate them. Unlike many other unlikable creatures (such as snakes or spiders) I cannot think of a single good reason for the existence of flies. I think they may well be part of the curse. I know one thing, had I been Pharaoh when Moses wanted to lead the Israelites out of Egypt there would have been no need for ten plagues. After the flies, I would have given Moses anything he wanted. In fact, I probably would have surrendered Egypt and I would have left!

And now I had just had a fly in my mouth. The very thought of it was disgusting. I dumped my tea and fly into the sink, dumped out the rest of the glass and seriously considered scouring my tongue with a Brillo pad. I was disgusted by the fact that I had had a fly in my mouth. For the next half hour I could hardly get it out of my mind.

Then my thoughts shifted and I was reminded of Revelation 3:16. In that verse God says of the church at Laodicea that because of their lukewarmness He would spit them out of His mouth–literally vomit them! As disgusted as I was by having a fly in mouth, God is even more disgusted than that when I am lukewarm–or when you are–about spiritual things. When we go to church and present the right image but then do our own thing for the rest of the week, He wants to throw up. When we talk a good talk but walk an entirely different walk, He wants to spit us out of His mouth. The level of detestation I have for flies is minute compared to God’s revulsion for lukewarm believers.

In other words, He takes it quite seriously.


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.