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.
Laodicea had a lukewarm water supply. The nearby city of Hierapolis had hot springs that were great for bathing. The nearby city of Colossae had pure cold water that was great for drinking. But not Laodicea. They only had lukewarm water, which was not great for anything.
Jesus is saying to the church at Laodicea – and no doubt to lots of churches today: You are lukewarm as a church. You are neither hot nor cold. You are just lukewarm. Yuck! It makes me want to spit you out of my mouth!
Those are strong words. Sobering words.
A church is lukewarm when it is proud and self-reliant. That was the church in Laodicea. They were wealthy and this led them to self-sufficiency. “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked” (Rev. 3:17).
This is a sober warning to every church in the United States, for we live in an affluent culture, and we must be wary, extremely wary, of pride and self-sufficiency.
How do we know if we have pride and self-sufficiency like the church in Laodicea?
The best indicator, the sure indicator, is prayerlessness. If there is little prayer in the church, if prayer is seen as a preliminary courtesy before you get to the real work of planning and talking, if prayer is not seen as the lifeblood of the church, then you can bet that there is a spirit of self-sufficiency rather than a spirit of desperateness and dependence.
Jackson Senyonga, a leading pastor in Uganda, has remarked, “In America the cry of sin is louder than the cry of intercession.”
George Verwer, founder of Operation Mobilization, commented, “The lack of prayer is the greatest scandal in the church today. It is a greater scandal than the disunity, the immorality, the lack of love.”
Our lack of prayer indicates our pride, our self-righteousness, our self-sufficiency.