That is such an unfortunate interpretation of a beautiful text. The people at Laodicea knew exactly what Jesus was saying to their church. Laodicea was a city situated at the crossroads of the aquaduct system of Rome. Aquaducts were open, above ground troughs that carried the water throughout Asia Minor. Fifteen miles north of Laodacia was the Roman city of Hierapolis where people from all over came for the healing found in the hot water springs of that city. Ten miles east of Laodacia was the Roman city of Colossae where the incredibly cold springs brought refreshment to weary travelers on their way to other regions of the world. Both Hierapolis and Colossae sent their water to Laodacia via aquaduct, but the cold water of Colassae and the hot water of Hierapolis became lukewarm water--good for nothing--upon arrival at Laodicea. With this knowledge, "cold" in the context of 1st Century Rome and Jesus' letter to Laodicea represents something "good," not "evil."
So what Jesus was saying to the people of Laodecia was simple, yet profound:
"I want you to be like the "hot" water that comes from the springs at Hierapolis. That is, I want you to be a people who bring healing to those hurting, wounded people that come your way. I also want you to be like the "cold" water that comes from Colossae. Be a people who bring refreshment to those who are tired, weary and full of despair. As it is, you are now neither "hot" nor "cold." Those who come into your midst find neither healing nor refreshment. I know your works. They are "lukewarm" and good for nothing. As it is, I spit you out of my mouth.Might I propose that churches and church leadership that bring neither healing nor refreshment to sinners are "poor," "blind," and "naked?" Might it also be true that churches who work hard to build an empire but lose sight of helping those who are spiritually wounded, oppressed and needy are "miserable and wretched?" I personally think this is the proper intepretation of Jesus' words to the church at Laodicea.
How do we know if we are a people that bring either healing or refreshment to sinners who come in contact with us? I think Paul Burleson gives us a keystone in his post The Kind of Group To Which I Belong on how to measure our success in this matter.
In His Grace,