Monday, January 02, 2012

WWJP Why Would Jesus Puke?: let's be hot AND cold, as Jesus wants

Why WOULD Jesus puke, anyway?
(related, see "the call to go into ministry is a lot like throwing up")??

So many are baffled by why Jesus would seemingly rather have us be 'cold' than lukewarm..
makes for some bizarre  and forced sermons.

This one on Revelation  3:
  14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
   These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
   19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
   21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Yet ANOTHER misunsderstood and eisegeted scripture (see: "Don't forget the assembling together.." 
and  I am in sin if I "avoid the appearance of evil"  and "of course Christians will be left behind")...   Verse-itis is deadly!

We just assume "cold water"  obviously = bad, and  "hot water" obviously = good."  You can google a thousand sermons with that point.  It's just too tempting to preach!

But they are likely well-meaning adventures in missing the meaning and point.

 As usual, much of the answer is catching the historical context.

Maybe all along Jesus wanted us to be hot AND cold.

Two of the masters here are Craig Keener (who is behind the invaluable  Bible Background Commentary on the NT  ):
The one sphere of life in which Laodiceans could not pretend to be self-sufficient was their water supply!  Laodicea had to pipe in its water from elsewhere, and by the time it arrived it was full of sediment; Laodicea actually acquired a bad reputation for its water supply.  Jesus comments on the temperature of the water: they were lukewarm, neither cold nor hot.  This does not mean, as some have suggested, that hot water was good but cold water was bad; Jesus would not want the Laodiceans “good or bad,” but only good.
Cold water was preferred for drinking, and hot water for bathing (also sometimes drunk at banquets), but the natural lukewarmness of local water (in contrast with the hot water available at nearby Hierapolis or cold water of nearby mountains) was undoubtedly a standard complaint of local residents, most of whom had an otherwise comfortable lifestyle.  Jesus is saying: “Were you hot (i.e., for bathing) or cold (i.e., for drinking), you would be useful; but as it is, you are simply disgusting.  I feel toward you the way you feel toward your water supply–you make me sick.”
         - Link: Craig Keener

and Ray Van DerLaan, audio here, or read below:


During the first century, the city of Laodicea was the richest and most powerful of the three cities. Located in the Lycus River Valley on the main trade route between the Mediterranean region and Persia, Laodicea was known for its soft black wool that was appreciated throughout the Roman world; its healing eye salve; and its banking. In fact, an ancient writer recorded that the city of approximately 120,000 people refused an emperor?s offer to rebuild following an earthquake. The Laodiceans apparently told the emperor that they were rich and didn?t need his money.
Despite its prosperity, however, Laodicea had a serious problem. Its water, unlike the healing hot springs of Hierapolis or the fresh, cold mountain water of Colosse, was lukewarm and full of minerals. It tasted so bad that it made people sick.

Changing the World by Being Hot and Cold

In light of the water for which the cities of Hierapolis, Colosse and Laodicea were known, the apostle John might have been saying, ?If you were hot, like the springs of Hierapolis, you?d bring healing, restoration, and comfort to people who suffer. If you were cold, like the water in Colosse, you?d refresh and encourage people who are hurting. Instead, you are lukewarm. You don't do anyone any good and you make me sick-just like your own water. So he challenged Christians today to be hot and cold in our daily lives.. to bring people the healing, caring, encouraging touch of Jesus
-Link: Ray Van DerLaan


Later note: I found is a helpful video by James-Michael Smith from his The Bible For the Rest of Us DVD series, and posted it


No comments:

Post a Comment

Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!