Faith, Revelation Series, Trusting God

Revelation (series): Needy—When We Have Much

@JeanneTakenaka +Jeanne Takenaka

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 

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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!*****

Click to Tweet: Affluence can cause a tearing in our souls

I’m linking up with #RaRaLinkup, Jennifer Dukes Lee, and Holley Gerth

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18 thoughts on “Revelation (series): Needy—When We Have Much”

  1. Jeanne,
    I grew up in a home where self-sufficiency was a virtue. Also, compared to the rest of the world, all of the US is affluent. We don’t really NEED Jesus. I’ve learned this from my destitute brothers and sisters in Christ in the Middle East. God had to take me to a place where I could no longer lean only on myself, but had to rely and depend upon him. Often we all need a good humbling. That is something our less affluent neighbors already have. Great thought provoking series!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

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    1. Bev, you are right. Compared to most of the world, we are wealthy beyond belief. It’s a double-edged sword of sorts, isn’t it? When we engage with those who live outside our normal sphere of influence and understanding, it seems like God opens our eyes and hearts to see so much. Yes, we all need a good humbling. Thank you for sharing your insights and your heart here, friend!

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  2. You are going deep and opening my eyes to the book of Revelations. This is one part of the Bible that I have not studied much at all but your posts are giving me the thirst to go deeper.

    The church of Laodicea does seem to mirror are current world. I grew up not needing anything but also not focusing on what I had. I probably took it for granted. But somewhere along the way, I became dependent on stuff and looked for acceptance based on things rather than I on who I was as a child of God. I feel like I am making a shift away from that but the world keeps telling us that more is better. I hope you find this week restful and reflective as we make our way to Easter.

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    1. Mary, I’m encouraged that this series has been an encouragement to you. 🙂

      It’s so easy to become dependent on stuff. We get used to all we have, and we begin to expect it to be there when we need it, or want it. We do find it easy to use stuff to try and gain what only God can give: acceptance and unconditional love. We have to really learn to listen to God’s truths rather than the world’s messages, don’t we?

      I hope your week and your Easter are refreshing and uplifting!

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  3. Thank you for this post. As Easter draws near it is such an important time for us to reflect upon our heart and challenge where our focus is – on Jesus or on the world. As I read another beautiful post this week – it really does boil down to humility so that we can be in a place to hear, see, and know God.

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    1. Melissa, you’re right. It’s important for us to give ourselves time to focus on our hearts and reflect on the sacrifice and gift Jesus gave us. May we continually grow in humility so we can better draw near to God’s heart. I hope your Easter is a special one!

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  4. Hoooo-weeee. Really good stuff here, Jeanne.

    Also, I think we may have been the same person in college. I was such a hypocrite from roughly age 16-21. Knew all the right answers, could say the right things, but I was far more concerned with dating and partying than I was with, well, not being an idiot. It felt good to be accepted and embraced by people who I thought mattered a great deal.

    Thank you for sharing this today.

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    1. Awww, Marie. I hope I get to meet you in real life someday. I think there is something so challenging about living our faith authentically in those young adult years. It was so easy to get confused by the world’s messages combined with my own inner wounds and what they said I “needed.” It takes a strong person who really knows Who her confidence is in to live authentically for Jesus, especially in those young adult years.

      I’m thankful God extends His grace to us when we’re “living stupid” or hypocritically.

      Thanks for sharing a bit of your story here, friend. Have a beautiful Easter!

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  5. Thank you for some more great insights in Revelations, Jeanne. And for your honesty and openness. We can so easily become apathetic, swaying between the friendship of the world and Jesus, can’t we? Such a great reminder here to examine our relationship with Jesus, whether it is superficial or rich and genuine. Thank you! Love and hugs to you!

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    1. Trudy, I’ve definitely been in the apathetic place where I wasn’t passionate about the Lord and walking closely with Him. May we always keep our relationship with Him as our top priority as we live out each day. I’m sending you love and hugs back along with a wish for a spirit-filled, beautiful Easter!

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  6. I thank Jesus that He has the salve that opens my eyes to what slaves me. And trying to gain worldly acceptance is a chain, rather than freedom. I know there are places I still can straddle, and feel off balance! But like that family He led you to, He’s led me to places in my journey too, where I can choose to grow deeper in Him. Have a wonderful Easter J!

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    1. Lynn, I’m with you. I’m so thankful Jesus’ salve opens my eyes to genuine truth. I, too, have been chained by the drive to be accepted by the world, and yes, it only chains us to enslavement. I don’t ever want to be back in that place again. I’m thankful He works in our hearts, revealing more of Himself to us, and conforming us into Jesus’ image one day, one choice, at a time.

      Have a beautiful Easter!

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  7. Dear Jeanne, how many times have I visited Laodecia in my faith journey? I remember when we were in Paris, where I’d longed to go for years. Yes, it was wonderful, but that Dorothy moment came quickly, and I longed for home. The world can be beautiful and easy to slip into, but it’s not our home, and we will never be satisfied there. Thank you for sharing these wise insights. Blessings for your Resurrection Day, Sweet Woman!

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    1. Alice, I kind of figured I wasn’t the only one who’s taken trips to Laodicea. How wonderful it must have been to visit Paris! I’ve not been yet. I like how you described it. The world can be easy to slip into, but it’s not home. How wise we are to remember that. I hope your Resurrection Day is beautiful, friend!

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  8. Man, that was good. Very challenging. I have so been there. The sad thing for my family is how we have tried to have it all and work in ministry. It came and bit us in the behind hard. I AM SO GREAT IT DID. It has brought us back to our first love. We want to spend the rest of our life giving and loving others so our blessing comes in watching others receive the Grace that God is extending. It’s so amazing how easy it is to become worldly and be a Christian. I don’t want to be thrown up. Do you? haha I want to be hot for God (I laughed when I wrote this). My hope is to bring as many people with me on this journey. Thanks for your words of wisdom and vulnerability.

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    1. Nate, it seems like sometimes God allows us a Plan B or C rather than His Plan A, because He knows that is what will draw us closer to Himself. Coming to the place where He becomes our first love (again) is the best place we can be. I am certain God is using you and your family’s testimony to bring hope to many people.

      It IS easy to become worldly-minded. We have to continually guard against that, don’t we? I’m with you. I want to be on fire for the Lord! Thank you so much for sharing here.

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