“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.”
I know your works
Jesus gives no commendation to the church at Laodicea.
Jesus is attentive to everything that goes on in every church. He discerns your church as well. He knows whether your church is good, bad or indifferent.
that you are neither cold nor hot
The word “cold” metaphorically means without enthusiasm. This church did not have an absolute cold chill on its spirituality. It was not so frigid that we could characterize their walk with God spirituality as in a deep freeze. They were neutral in their walk. They did not have unmistakable reality to their Christianity. It was surreal and unreal. Their hearts were cold and without heart.
Neither was the church at Laodicea “hot.” The word “hot” means to boil, to be fervent. The idea is boiling hot. Metaphorically, the church was not at the boiling point in their spirituality. Their heart was not favorable to God’s plan for their lives.
This rebuke by Jesus had special impact on the church Laodicea because their city water supply started out hot from Hierapolis but by the time it arrived in Laodicea, it was lukewarm. Like their water supply, they were tepid in their spirituality because they were content with material things. Self-satisfaction leads to spiritual death.
I could wish you were cold or hot
The church at Laodicea was neither cold nor hot; it was lukewarm. As a lukewarm church, their spiritual water was unpalatable and Jesus spits it out. Jesus is not in the casual business.
The word “wish” indicates an unattainable wish and carries the idea of ought. This ought to be done if one had one’s wish. Jesus wishes they would come to grips with where they were spiritually. They diluted themselves into thinking they were right in taking this middle of the road position. Taking no clear position always leads ultimately to spiritual disaster.
A tepid heart is an indication of spiritual indifference; a boiling heart for God is an indication of spiritual dynamic.
Can Jesus draw the charge of a cold heart against you? Being cold or hot is better than being in-between. If Jesus is real to us, our hearts cannot be anything but boiling hot toward Him. It is impossible to maintain a neutral spirituality. An aggressive enemy is better than treacherous barrenness.
As long as we live an in-between life, we will never live a dynamic Christian life. Apathetic and mediocre spirituality is delusional. Some churches feel that they dare not go to any extreme. They would never be as cold as ice nor hot as fire. They love being halfhearted. Middle of the road Christianity never accomplishes anything much. Passionate people always outstrip indifferent people. A neutral church is nauseating, as we will see in the next verse.
The dynamic Christian boils. This person walks in the Spirit on a constant basis. A boiling hot believer constantly confesses his sin and keeps short account with God (1 Jn 1:9).