One of the most famous images from the letter to Laodicea is that of the “lukewarm” Christian that Jesus will spew from his mouth (the original word means to vomit). Knowing a bit of the geography of the area helps us understand a bit more the meaning this reference would have had for them:
The great vulnerability of the city of Laodicea was its water supply. Water had to be piped in from far away, leaving the city vulnerable to attacks in times of war. (This fact forced the politicians in Laodicea to become skilled in the art of diplomacy!) In fact, the most outstanding ruins where Laodicea once stood are the remains of an aqueduct system which once helped bring water to the city; the pipes had cleaning grates at regular intervals to allow the mineral deposits to be scraped out due to the high mineral content in the area’s water. The nearby town of Hierapolis is famous for its hot springs; the water flowing from them formed large white terraces, in a place now called Pamukkale (“cotton castle”). It’s a popular resort in Turkey, with people traveling miles to bathe in the hot springs. Though soothing to soak in, the water has a foul odor and is sickening to drink. If the water were transported to Laodicea, it would merely be a tepid, brackish drink, capable only of inducing vomiting. In the other direction lies Denizli, a town whose name means “place with a large body of water.” The name probably comes from the existence of underground springs in the area. This water, refreshingly cool when it appears at the source, is excellent for drinking. However, by the time it was piped several miles to Laodicea, this water would also arrive in a lukewarm state.
(Letters From The Lamb, p. 150)
The Christians at Laodicea would have understood in a vivid way what Jesus was talking about when he referred to them being neither hot nor cold. They would understand why Jesus was ready to reject them.
As always, God communicated his message in a relevant way for those who first heard it.