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The ancient city of Laodicea had a water problem. The problem was there was no water. At least not in the city itself. There were hot springs 6 miles away near the town of Hierapolis. That water wasn’t drinkable and would lose its soothing warmth by the time it was taken to Laodicea. At about the same distance in the opposite direction, there were deliciously cool sources of water around Denizli. These waters would also lose their cool temperature when transported to Laodicea, resulting in an unpleasantly warm drink. The only water available to the Laodiceans was lukewarm at best.

When Jesus addressed the Christians of this city in the book of Revelation, he used an illustration they would understand: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15-16). The Greek word translated “spit” is more accurately translated “vomit”. It’s an unpleasant image for an unpleasant condition: Christians who have lost their passion, who have compromised their loyalty to Christ.