Laodicea is the church that thinks it has it all together when in reality it has missed the mark. The book of Revelation portrays the church as one that says, “I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing,” but instead, “you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked,” Revelation 3:17
Notice the “I” problem that haunts Laodicea. This is a church of arrogance and large egos. They believe they can do it all, and that of course implies they don’t need Jesus. Their hard work, their understanding of theology, their striving and church administration has made the church a success but they have missed the entire point of what it means to be a Christian. It’s not about them but instead all about Jesus.
I believe some of us have been paralyzed with fear, as Christians, to experience the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into our lives. The fear of emotionalism and the possibility of falling into fanaticism have kept us from longing for a deeper and more personal relationship with God. We are content in knowing about Jesus instead of knowing Jesus because it keeps us from having to become fully committed to Him. But Jesus cries out to us “be zealous and repent”. Revelation 3:19
Jesus calls us to discipleship. He calls us to be one hundred percent in, to have zeal and passion for our faith but so often we offer Him only our leftovers. After we have pursued our careers, our relationships, our financial goals and our educational desires, then we fit Him into our lives. What we really need is more of Jesus in our lives if we truly wish to be fully committed followers of Jesus and not the embarrassingly sad church of Laodicea.
While the church of Laodicea smugly celebrated their wealth, prosperity, success and good reputation, they were simply fooling themselves into thinking they were the church that they were not. But God has an antidote for Laodicea and it comes in the form of “advice” or, as the Revised Standard Version states, “I counsel you, to buy from me gold refined in the 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
Jesus has the right to demand that His church change their ways and wake up out of their indifference but instead He pleads with us, advising and counseling us to pay attention to His words that would transform our lives if we would only take them to heart. However, this is not a call to repentance that we can ignore simply because we don’t want to heed the advice to put Jesus first in our lives. The result of remaining in our indifference and lukewarm condition is that Jesus says He “will spew you out of my mouth.” (v. 16)
And what remains today of this once powerful city and prosperous church? Nothing remains except scattered remnants of a broken city and not a trace of its famous and self-satisfied church. While the church of Laodicea were busy saying “I am rich “ and “I have prospered,” and “I need nothing,” Jesus advises them “to buy from Him.”
As Christians we are faced with two choices in where we place our faith. We either give all the credit and glory for our spiritual wellbeing to ourselves or we fall at the foot of the cross and put all our trust in Christ. In John 15:5 Jesus reminds us, “apart from me you can do nothing.” This would have been a sobering thought for the 1st Century church just as it is a startling reminder of our own insufficiencies here in the 21st Century.
In the messages to Ephesus and Sardis Jesus called on the church to repent. (Revelation 2:5; 3:3) Now once again Jesus calls out to His church to “be zealous and repent” (3:19) When we come face to face with our real spiritual condition and not the persona we portray it is a sobering reality. Jesus calls on us to “repent,” of our self-centered religion where we put our works above His grace. We thought we were rich but in reality without Jesus we are poor and need of “His gold refined in the fire, that we may be rich.”
The blessings of verse 18 are too precious to be skimmed over so we will pick up on the wonderful gifts of that verse next post as well as delving into one of the most dynamic and encouraging verses in the Bible, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me,” Revelation 3:20.
No matter how far down the road we are, Jesus always comes looking for us. And that truth applies even to the smug and self-sufficient yet deluded church of Laodicea.
* Please remember to pray for the Christians who are suffering persecution for their faith in many countries around the world. These people hold fast even unto death. 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…