Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Neither hot nor cold

One of the brilliant things about getting to Turkey was being able to see some of the places that are mentioned in the New Testament. Ephesus, in particular, was awesome - and it was great seeing one of the oldest surviving church buildings at Hierapolis.

One of the real highlights was getting to visit Pamukkale. Pamukkale is an incredible snow-like deposit of calcium bicarbonate on the natural landscape, deposited by the mineral-rich spring water flowing down the valley from Hierapolis. Where does it flow to? About ten miles south it reaches Laodicea, neither hot nor cold - and not drinkable.

The metaphor that Jesus used to describe the Laodicean church came alive for me at Pamukkale. The water starts hot in Hierapolis, yet as it cascades down the valley all of the goodness is taken away. Just like the church in Laodicea, which had presumably started hot - but which had lost its white-hot fervour for the gospel, distracted by other things and left petrified and lukewarm.

I think often our answer to feeling lukewarm as Christians is to somehow try and whip ourselves up into a frenzy. I remember chatting to a friend a few months ago who felt lukewarm who was trying to take just this course of action. Jesus commands something very different to the church in Laodicea - not 'make yourself passionate', but repent. It is repentance that makes us aware of our true position before God, and in repentance we are most aware of our complete reliance on God for everything. It's when we are most aware of this need that we become 'hot' for the gospel.

It was very humbling to go to Pamukkale, particularly as the church in Turkey is now so minute. I found myself praying that both I and the Christians I know stay repentant and avoid the complacency of the Laodicean church. That way we might stay hot for Christ.

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