The third chapter of the book of Revelations Jesus writes a letter to the church of Laodicea. This community is a relatively wealthy community that seems to have all the material possessions one could want. The letter written to them speaks into their context of financial security and wealth, greed, complacency, and self reliance. Sounds a bit like America in my opinion. This is what is the letter says…
14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with them, and they with me. To those who are victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
(Revelations 3:14-22, TNIV)
What is interesting is that this is a familiar passage in many churches in America, yet I have hardly heard it exegeted in consistency with the message and main point addressed there. Many either isolate the section about being hot or cold from the rest of the passage… or some grab vs. 19 about Jesus knocking oustside on the door and wanting to come in, using it as a evangelistic verse to ask unbelievers to “let Jesus in”. The reality is that this verse is written to the church, to those who already believe, not unbelievers.
These folks were wealthy and self reliant, not fully following after Jesus. Apparently, Jesus is not present at their community and fellowship according to the passage. They have been enticed by the things of this world, and have tried to chase after those things while attempting to follow Jesus. The reality is that they can’t have both and so really all they have is the temporal wealth of this world. They are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.
Lord, forgive us for our self reliance, pride, arrogance, and greed that continually pulls us, and has us chasing after things other than you. Help us to truly see our brokenness and poverty without you. May we follow after only you, may you be at the center of our gatherings, may you shape and mold us to be more like you, may we be good stewards of your stuff, may we become generous and compassionate like you, and may we be fully committed to you.