What would cause God to say that He may want to barf us out of His mouth? That conjures up rather grotesque and repulsive imagery. Something must taste awfully bad or make someone violent ill to spew. This certainly is strange – talking about puke in relation to God. And, yes, I’m trying to exhaust every synonym in the English language for the word regurgitate. Whether or not you upchuck, at least there’s a better chance that you’ll remember reading this by me using language with technicolor yawn-like diversity.
Anyway, in what I now refer to as “The Other 3:16” because of it’s particular relevancy in our increasingly relativistic age and culture, God says, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth” – Revelation 3:15&16 (also quoted in my previous post “Utopian Undertones”). Wow! If you’re on the same train of thought as I am, that’s not only vivid, but pretty scary too.
First, The Other 3:16 is a reminder to seek God with all your heart, soul and mind. In Jeremiah 29:13, God says, “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (also see Deuteronomy 4:29). If we seek God as He challenged us to do, we’re more apt to be hot or cold to God – a decision with which He is intentionally confronting us. Being lukewarm is like being apathetic to the great asset of knowledge, which is obviously not a wise thing to do for countless reasons.
Second, it provides a reminder of the responsibility someone with knowledge has, to demonstrate care for things – by which I mean living righteously. The parable of the faithful steward instantly comes to mind. Luke 12:48 says, “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” God isn’t pleased when we stop at knowledge and are content with child-like responsibility and care. Just as a parent, God demands maturation of His children and for them to go beyond the selfishness of lukewarmness into hotter waters.
Third, it reminds me of who Jesus says He is – God, the one and only God. Jesus’ statements of being God are not lukewarm, nor are they intended to inspire lukewarmness. Rather, Jesus presents us a two-handled faucet with a cold dial to the left and a hot dial to the right. It is a faucet too often operated by human error – by delicate human hands that are too apathetic or timid to dial temperatures beyond anything but tepid. Wouldn’t it be better to test the waters and make a decision cold or hot? At least you would choose whether or not to believe in the Water of Life – Jesus. At the very least, it must sound better than being thrown up by God, if He is indeed the one and only Truth, because you are lukewarm.
I’ll leave you with the words of one of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis. In the book Mere Christianity, he wrote: “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him [Jesus]: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level of with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
*Origin of Discursion: Writing and ruminating on my article “Utopian Undertones,” talking theology with my friends Grant and Sara over a Grain Belt Premium (The Friendly Beer), and talking with my parents about theology and culture over lunch.