With this post we come to the last in our series on the seven churches of Revelation. It has been interesting and I hope informative to look at the praises as well as the reprimands directed to the churches. All but one, the church of Philadelphia, falls well short of God’s calling for them, yet He continued to encourage them not to give up, but instead, to put their love and trust in Him.
Laodicea, as we have seen over the last two posts, was a church of pride, self-centeredness and abundance. It thought there was no other church like it and yet today no trace of the once egocentric church remains.
We noticed last post that Jesus doesn’t demand change from the church, but lovingly advises them to, “buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may be rich, and white garments to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see,” Revelation 3:18.
For most of us suffering and hardship are not high on our list of favorite things to have happen to us. Yet, suffering is part and parcel of what it means to be a Christian. We are not delivered out of suffering just because we are Christians, instead we suffer as anyone else would since we all live in a sinful fallen world. Part of God’s understanding of Paul’s missionary endeavors was that he would suffer. “For I will show him how many things he must suffer for my name’s sake.” Acts 9:16
It is being refined in the fires of suffering and troubles that we learn to trust in Jesus. As long as we rely upon our own strength and power to face temptation and hardships we will always fail. But, when we learn to put faith in God’s leading and solutions we can walk with confidence regardless of the struggle.
Jesus says we must buy from Him gold tried in the fire of suffering but the rewards are, “that you may be rich”. (v. 18) The riches Jesus speaks of are the assurance of His presence, love, support, kindness, mercy, patience and eternal life. A handful of gold coins and silver are empty rewards for a life of smug self-reliance and greed infecting the church of Laodicea.
The church was blind to their lack of discipleship. They thought they had it all because of their beautiful church building, ample church budget, outward conformity to the teachings of Jesus and knowledge of doctrine. They were blind, however, because they knew about Jesus but didn’t have a clue about really knowing Him as a friend and Savior. They needed their blindness healed, but only Jesus can do that through the work of the Holy Spirit that lifts the blinders from the eyes of those who are willing.
When we look around we see so many people who are spiritually blinded and who need the eye salve to anoint their eyes that they can see Christ. Jesus wasn’t addressing the fallen world when He spoke these words, but instead was addressing the church.
He also advises the Laodiceans to buy from Him, “white garments to clothe you and keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen.” (v. 18) Our works, regardless of how sincere, are simple rags that leave us naked with time. We need the righteousness of Jesus to cover us, and the shame of our sinful natures. The Laodiceans thought they were clothed in the finest works they could purchase with their wealth and prestige but in reality without Jesus all that they accomplished was empty.
The church of Laodicea needed a transformation and a revival. How could that happen in a church that believed they already were as close to God as they could ever be? Jesus says, “Those whom I love, I reprove and chasten; so be zealous and repent.” (v. 19)
When we face trials, pain, suffering and discouragement it’s not because God has abandoned us, instead He draws closer to us. Please don’t get the idea from what I’ve written that I believe God brings problems on us so that we can learn to trust Him more. No. Problems come our way because of the condition of our world. All I am saying is that when they do come, Jesus is there to strengthen us and through that experience we grow stronger spiritually.
But, what Laodicea really needed more than anything was to wake up out of their drowsiness and become zealous for Christ. They needed to repent of their indifference and smugness and regain their personal relationship with God. This is what we all so fervently need in our lives. Most of us go through life longing for adventure and a reason to face another day. But, when Jesus takes a hold of us everything changes.
Last night at our Bible study one of the women told about her visit to India and being invited to lay hands on a lady and pray for the recovery of her sight. My friend was overwhelmed with the request but in faith she began to pray fervently over the woman and the woman’s sight was restored.
Zeal for God that changes everything about our life is what we need. The willingness to stand tall for Jesus even when it seems crazy to us, and everyone around us, is the transforming power of the Spirit. And we need to repent of our indifference and begin to see the world through the eyes of Jesus.
I want my life to matter. I long for my life to count in a world where so little really counts. I believe most of you do as well. Let’s spend more time at the foot of the cross being filled with repentance for sin that so easily entraps us and growing in zeal for the gospel that transforms us into spirit filled disciples.
I see I’ve come to the end of the blog and I still haven’t written on Revelation 3:20 so I guess next blog we will look at that amazing verse that pulls together these discussions on Laodicea.
* Please remember to pray for the Christians who are suffering persecution for their faith in many countries around the world. There is a great evil settling on this earth and we must be vigilant in our prayers and stay close to Christ. Our hope is in Christ and he is faithful to his people. Please take the time to read about what is taking place in the world around us at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…