Today we are going to read about the church at Laodicea. This was the final letter John writes as we read in Revelation 3:14-22. God had nothing good to say about this church – He was angered with their indifference. They had become lukewarm.
Laodicea was the wealthiest of the seven cities, known for it’s banking industry, manufacture of wool, and a medical school that produced eye ointment. But the city always had a problem with it’s water supply. At one time an aqueduct was built to bring water to the city from hot springs. But by the time the water reached the city, it was neither hot nor refreshingly cool – only lukewarm. The church had become as bland as the tepid water that came into that city.
Lukewarm water makes a disgusting drink. The church in Laodicea had become lukewarm and thus distasteful and repugnant. The believers didn’t take a stand for anything; indifference had led to idleness. By neglecting to do anything for Christ, the church had become hardened and self-satisfied, and it was destroying itself. Be careful not to become a half-hearted, nominal Christian who is self-sufficient. Don’t settle for following God halfway. Let Christ fire up your faith and get you into action.
Let’s read what John wrote to Laodicea and then we’ll continue with the commentary…
“Write this letter to the messenger of the church in Laodicea. This is the message from the one who is the Amen – the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s new creation: I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! You say ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. So I advise you to buy gold from me – gold that had been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference. Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne. Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is and saying to the churches.”
Some believers assume that numerous material possessions are a sign of God’s spiritual blessing. Laodicea was a wealthy city, and the church was also wealthy. But what the Laodiceans could see and buy had become more valuable to them than what is unseen and eternal. Wealth, Luxury, and ease can make people feel confident, satisfied, and complacent. But no matter how much you possess or how much money you make, you have nothing if you don’t have a vital relationship with Christ. How does your current level of wealth affect your spiritual desire? Instead of centering your life primarily on comfort and luxury, find your true riches in Christ.
I believe one of the biggest struggles Christians in the United States face is privilege. I believe it keeps us from seeing a mighty move of God because even those with the best of hearts and intentions tend to “fix it themselves.” If your child is sick how many go to Google, or webMD and then to a doctor. Prayer, which should be first, is often a last resort. Or how many times do we see someone lost and broken and our first instinct is to throw money at the situation instead of giving them Jesus? Yes, there are times we need to buy them a meal or help them with clothing and shelter. But we often neglect to give them Jesus. We neglect to tell them to seek Him with their whole heart and he will take care of their needs. Often we don’t have that level of faith so we can say it confidently to those in need. When my friends return from mission trips in 3rd world countries they tell stories of witnessing the Holy Spirit and moves of God in a way they’ve never seen here in the United States. Why? Because when their children are sick, when they have no food, their FIRST response in faith believing, is prayer. They believe God can and will supply their needs and then, He moves.
God would discipline this lukewarm church unless it turned from its indifference toward him. God’s purpose in discipline is not to punish but to bring people back to Him. Are you lukewarm in your devotion to God? God may discipline you to help you out of your uncaring attitude just like a loving father disciplines his children for their own good. God uses only loving discipline. You can avoid God’s discipline by drawing near to him again through confession, service, worship, and studying his Word. Just as the spark of love can be rekindled in marriage, so the Holy Spirit can re-ignite our zeal for God when we allow him to work in our heart.
Jesus knocks at the door of our heart because he wants to save us and have fellowship with us. He is patient and persistent in trying to get through to us – not breaking and entering, but knocking. He allows us to decide whether or not to open our life to him. Do you intentionally keep his life-changing presence and power on the other side of the door?
**Some commentary taken from the Life Application Study Bible