You and I are not facing the same kinds of persecution the Apostle John was when Jesus appeared to him in a prison cell on the island of Patmos. And yet, we have more in common with John than we’d like. We can see storm clouds rising on the horizon of our lives. And if we don’t see those storm clouds now, it’s only a matter of time.
The gospel, you see, shows us something about God that creation could never show us: Our God is a faithful, pursuing Father who wouldn’t let us go even after we rejected him. When it came time to pour out his judgment, he poured it out first on himself, and he will release us from our punishment if we will accept that and trust it.
Paul is saying in Romans 1 that none of us wants to embrace the truth about a glorious, all-powerful, holy, ruling God. We want to make the rules. We want to take God’s glory for ourselves and use our lives to direct others’ attention toward us, not toward him.
Like the Colossians, we typically express a “Jesus and …” mentality by thinking that in order to be happy and secure, we need other things in addition to obedience to Jesus. We don’t reject Jesus, of course. But to really make life work, we think we need other things as well. And the primary place we express this “Jesus and …” mentality is in relation to money.
As I was growing up, the image of Jesus I always had in my mind was this sad, jobless guy with tears in his eyes. I’m not sure where we get an image like that. Not from the Bible. Jesus was a carpenter, which means he would have been more rugged and buff than soft and flowy. But more important than his earthly profession is the way Jesus is depicted in Revelation.
Streams from both of these regions flowed down into pools outside of Laodicea, where they combined to form stagnant ponds of tepid water—neither hot (and good for bathing) nor cold (and good for drinking). Either hot or cold is good but lukewarm is no good for anybody.