I like tea, bold, black tea, brewed either perfectly hot or iced cold. There is no in between for me. It is really my only other beverage of choice in lieu of water. Before you ask or wonder my friends, no, I don’t care for sweet tea. I am certain I hear some audible gasps from some of my southern family and friends. I just prefer my tea black and very hot or over really good ice. You know what I’m talking about, clear, perfect good restaurant ice in a tall glass, and to get it perfect, I recently purchased a new tea kettle. There are a number of reasons I love it. It’s clear glass, has a cool blue light when boiling, and has different settings for the different types of tea. It took me some time to realize that green tea, oolong, chamomile and black tea all really were better if their water temperature was correct for the type of tea I was brewing. My taste buds typically lean towards either English or Irish Breakfast teas because they are a black tea; they need to be brewed for four minutes with water at the perfect boiling temperature of 212 degrees. No more, no less, 212 degrees is the optimal temperature to brew black tea to be enjoyed hot or iced. There are standards to getting it right, expectations of how it will energize your morning with that first hot mug or refresh your afternoon. I have been accused, on occasion, of being a bit of a tea snob because I have sent an order of tea back at a restaurant. Water not hot enough to steep the tea will not brew properly, and anything less than iced cold is just bad. I don’t accept anything in the middle, or lukewarm. It leaves me disappointed and dissatisfied.
Certainly, not even close in comparison would be God’s dissatisfaction with His church in Laodicia. Yet, it does help me understand where He was coming from when He said to His church,
I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! (Rev. 3:15-16, NLT)
John’s letter to the Laodician church was the last of seven letters. This particular church’s focus was on its own riches and wealth. They were not seeing anything beyond those things, and had become lazy, complacent, and boastful; worst of all, lukewarm about their faith. It’s here...in this context my friend, that we need to understand that God is referring to their works. Works that should be for God’s kingdom and glory; not personal accumulation of natural things, or for comfort so that they could become prideful.
Sound familiar? Ouch! I’m afraid many of today’s Christians, including myself, at times could easily be compared to the Laodicians of that time and for the same reasons. We accumulate things for ourselves, pursue personal agendas and look for recognition and accolades in the process. All the while proclaiming to be doing His work; however, we are apathetic to things around us in the world that are not in line with His plan. Live how and with whom you want, feed your mind with things contrary to His will, live your life in the world Monday through Saturday, but put on your holy face for Sunday morning. Apathy, is lukewarm faith in action! It disgusts God to the point He can’t stomach it; to the point He would want to spit it out! That seems like some very strong language, but God wasn’t fooling around, and He wanted the Laodicians to be able to relate to something they were already familiar with.
We need to understand why this reference of hot, cold and lukewarm is so appropriate. Laodicia was positioned in the middle of the cities of Heiropolis, and nearby Colassae. Heiropolis was known for a spring that produced healing, hot, medicinal water. Colassae benefited from fresh mountain spring waters that were ice cold. If you have ever been in a hot spring similar to the ones in Colorado, you know how healing those waters can be on a weary body. They ease the pain and restore your energy,. And after a long hike, when the throat is parched, a sip from a fresh mountain spring quenches even the most desperate thirst and refreshes the body. Unfortunately, Laodicia was known for neither. It had warm, lukewarm water. In fact that was not good for much of anything.
In either of those scenarios, anywhere in between, tepid, will not accomplish the desired outcome. Just as tepid or lukewarm faith will not satisfy God. His response or rebuke is an admonishment in love to His children that says, you can do better, you’re capable of more. I expect more of you because I created you to be more than lukewarm. If He ignores our apathy, it would be like a parent letting an unruly child get away with bad behavior. He won’t accept anything less than our best effort, and He knows it’s for our own good because He loves us.
In a nutshell, the tea gets sent back because it isn’t what was ordered, deserved or expected; it didn’t satisfy and it was actually repulsive at best. God wants His children, He wants you and I sweet friend, energized in bold faith, on fire for His kingdom. He wants us to be an oasis in someone’s desert with the refreshing life giving water of God’s grace and mercy. He does not want us lukewarm, tepid or apathetic. He will use us, hot or cold, to be transformational in this world for His glory.
I think I hear a kettle boiling. I will take some time to brew some tea, and sit with my favorite tea time partner to listen to what He has planned next for me. I want so badly to be transformed by His grace. Join us, there is always enough.