So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ — and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked …Revelation 3:16-17
It is already Sunday afternoon in this part of the world, as I pen this post. The first day of the week is the day I would get up early and prepare myself to “attend” several local churches within the span of a few hours, to catch up with current affairs and to look out for good sermons that promotes truth. “Attend” with my laptop, that is.
This week, my attention is once again being brought back to the lukewarm church in Revelation 3:14-22. Of the seven types of churches found in this book, the lukewarm church is likely to be the most common type of church among churches that are to be found in most part of the globe. It is also fairly easy to identify a lukewarm church; they are distinctly neither hot nor cold (Revelation 3:15), demonstrated by a consistent flip-flop in their approach to the faith.
On good days, they would become pleasing to God, emphasizing the Bible truth, calling out for repentance and the forgoing of sins. On other days, the lukewarm church becomes barren and indifferent. While they don’t deny the dreadful fallout of sin, neither do they preach against it but rather they would embrace a sort of counterproductive neutrality, that befits the label of being called lukewarm.
Christ warned the church in Laodicea and counseled them to buy from Him gold refined with fire, that they may be rich, possessing white garments (or white robes, a.k.a. righteousness), that they may be clothed, that their shame may be covered, and that they may be anointed with Wisdom, so that their eyes may see (Revelation 3:18).
Two thousand years ago, was the era of the Roman empire. The Roman Empire served as the first example of an administration guilty of debasing its own currency. At that time, money was actual gold and silver coins, and not paper and ink, the Roman Empire reduced the purity of each silver coin enabling them to make more coins with the same face value for less quantity of silver and gold.
When Christ walked the earth, a silver denarius was over 90% pure. In the days of Marcus Aurelius in around AD 170, a silver denarius was 75% pure. By the reign of Gallineus in AD 260, the silver content of a Roman denarius was around 5%. The denarius lost much of its intrinsic value due to the removal of the gold and silver content in the coins. It is interesting to note that this debasement and dishonest money eventually played a major role in the collapse of the Roman Empire.
Understanding the historic aspect of the practice of debasing money by the Roman Empire, gave us vital clues why Christ used the analogy of refining gold in fire, when the words were preached to the Laodiceans. Christ was pointing to them their lack of knowledge, between what is of true value and what is not. The people thought they were wealthy but in actual fact, they were not and they were in possession of debased money; holding worthless, diluted gold and silver. They thought they were rich but in reality they were poor in Spirit, knowledge and Wisdom due to their lack of discernment.
And this disparity in knowledge and Wisdom is what sets them out to be what they are called to be; as the lukewarm church. Though their hearts desired to be faithful but their lack of understanding prevented them from achieving the ultimate prize of salvation; that is righteousness and sight. We could very well see again and again, all over the Bible, and even in Revelation 3:18, Christ Himself brought the Laodiceans back to the foundations and fundamentals; reminding them that to be Spiritually wealthy means to be righteous and to be having unfettered visibility of the truth.