Some things are good when they’re lukewarm, like…um… bread? But thats only because its not meant to be hot in the first place. Things that are meant to be hot, like cooked dinner, or a cup of tea, are vile when they’re tepid (such a great word). And things that are meant to be cold, like salad or ice cream, just need to be cold.
Most of the time lukewarm and tepid are not the ideal temperatures- they’re an indicator that things aren’t going too well. When I sit down for dinner and its tepid, its because I didn’t get to the table quick enough, or I’ve wasted time trying to persuade a 3yr old that the meal table is no place for a furry rabbit (she’s right, of course bunny wants to be with us, how could I miss that?).
This morning I was reading Revelation chapter 3, which talks about the church in Laodicea. When Christians discuss their churches, one in-joke that sometimes comes up is ‘who is the Laodicea in the room?’, because over the years that name has become synonymous with a lukewarm faith, and the challenging words that Jesus spoke over them- I’ll spit you out because you’re neither hot nor cold. Ouch. Not what you want to hear.
I think the reason that these strong things are said is that the church is still claiming to be living for Jesus, to be faithful, but their words and their hearts are misaligned- like a plate of food that looks and smells great, but just doesn’t hit the button when you put the first mouthful in. Its lost its heat.
The church in Ephesus were challenged to rediscover their first love, and I think the challenge to these people was somewhat similar- to remember what they were meant to be like.
Sometimes when I’ve left a cuppa to get cold, I just slug it down- yeuchh, but the fluid and caffeine are still present so its got some functional purpose. Its better if I reheat it, and then drink it more slowly, enjoying it- which is how its meant to be: there’s more to it that just the motions and the functional intake of liquid to prevent dehydration.
Its the difference between survival and life- there are times when we’re just getting by, but thats not what we’re meant to be like. Life is for living. Similarly our faith is meant to be more than just motions and requirements. Its meant to be at the core of our being… we’re most fully alive when we’re in relationship with people and God, and the challenge is to seek out that intimacy, rather than be content with lukewarm life.
And if its got lukewarm, a bit tepid, then stick it in the microwave, or maybe start again, and get your life and your faith back up to piping hot.