I didn’t set out to write a series based on Revelation 2-3. As I began reading the book of Revelation during my quiet times, I wanted to find truths written to the churches that apply for my life. What came from that desire to find one thing in each letter . . . is this series.
The churches to whom John wrote dealt with many of the same issues we face in an increasingly godless culture. Just as the early churches made choices about whether they would live for Jesus or themselves, so too, do we.
We have the gift of being able to look at back at their strengths and weaknesses and learn from them.
This isn’t an in-depth theological rendering of these letters. Rather, each post reflects what God has taught me through studying both the letters and the churches. As we walk through Revelation two and three over the next seven weeks, I hope you’ll be encouraged and share your thoughts here! Past posts can be found here: Revelation Series
My college years were my “Laodicea years.” I asked Jesus into my heart at age fourteen. Through high school, I did things that grounded me in my relationship with Jesus. I attended a good youth group, made friends. I went to church. I even read the Bible. No coercion from my family.
There was this seed, though . . . it germinated the lie in my heart that I needed things the world offered as well.
When I headed to college, it was only weeks before I began seeking what the world offered. Sure, I was a Christian. But I was also needy. In need of acceptance. Instead of seeking out fellow believers, I looked for acceptance anywhere.
This was my faith’s kryptonite.
I held to my beliefs, sang in church on Sundays. But I partied, dated people who didn’t know Jesus.
I hid my faith.
I straddled the fence that borders Christianity and the world. My heart grew apathetic.
I was not unlike the people in the Laodicean church. Laodicea was a commercial hub with an eye salve for which they were known world-wide. They were wealthy. Self-sufficient.
John’s letter to them must have come as a shock. Instead of being praised for all that they were, they were chastened for what they lacked.
Jesus began by calling Himself the Amen. The So-Be-It. This was a declaration of who He is. What He declares will be so. The promises . . . and the consequences. He gave Laodicea a chance to turn from their apathy toward Him. Toward a relationship that is real and rich and genuine.
Jesus also names Himself “the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.”
Laodicea wasn’t in charge of themselves. God was.
Jesus knew their works. That they were neither cold nor hot. They were lukewarm. He said He was about ready to spit them out of His mouth.
Who is refreshed by drinking lukewarm water?
They were a picture of compromise and indifference. They tried to play both sides of life—Christian and worldly. They did neither well.
They may have been great at religion. They knew of Jesus, but had no relationship with Him.
I see many similarities in our culture. We have so much.
In general, we don’t acknowledge God as the Giver of all good things.
We see what we have as ours . . . we earned it. We don’t have to rely on God, as so many around the world do.
Our next meal, pain killers for a headache, medication when we’re sick . . . most of these resources are as close as the nearest store.
We’re self-sufficient. We don’t have to pray God will provide it.
Affluence isn’t always bad. What’s dangerous is our mindset about what we have.
Where is our heart? Dependent upon and seeking God?
Or are we about seeking more stuff?
Are we filled by God, or are we focusing on what the world has to offer?
Affluence can cause a tearing in our souls. The way mending happens is when we humble ourselves before our Father.
God doesn’t want us walking the fence between the world and Him. He wants us to choose, one way or the other.
Waffling between the two is a poor witness to the world around us and tells Jesus we are not truly committed to Him.
The Laodiceans were forced to choose—continue walking in self-sufficiency, or humbly accept the correction and help Jesus offered. So too, are we.
God wants us to take a stand.
To choose Him.
But if we choose the world, at least we’ve chosen.
A place of straddling leaves us hanging on the fence rather than clinging to Him.
The Laodiceans saw themselves as rich. Jesus viewed them as poor. But, He offered them what they needed to be rich in Him.
Their only cost to attain Jesus’ riches would be to give up pride and embrace humility. To see themselves as needing His gold, the eye salve Jesus offered.
Salve that would enable them to see the truth of their condition and the truth of who He is.
The fact that Jesus sent a letter of rebuke to Laodicea showed He still loved them. God corrects the ones He loves. He wants His children—us—to choose Him.
We have so much that blinds to our need for Jesus. He is the only One who gives lasting riches. Who can open our eyes to the truth of our condition. Who offers our hearts the healing we crave. And, He loves us more than we can comprehend.
After college I lived with a Christian family. The wife is a stellar example of living whole-heartedly for Jesus. She challenged me to choose to live completely for the Lord. As I observed her example of humility and transparency, I made my choice: Jesus.
What the world sells is fleeting. What Jesus gives is beyond amazing.
What about you? How do you choose Jesus in a world that offers seeming riches? When has Jesus called you to choose Him over something else?
*****I won’t be able to respond to many comments and visit blogs on Tuesday, but I can’t wait to connect with everyone on Wednesday!*****