The final church of this study is the Church of Laodicea – the Lukewarm church. Although I don’t go into details with the other churches as to how they relate to us now, I believe Laodecia is a great representation of the western church “system” today. I myself was born in a 3rd world country before emigrating to America with my family. Over there, the government is corrupt and doesn’t have the interests of the people at heart; they only care about their pockets. In this type of situation, who else can you lean on when even your family abandons you? Only God and God alone. I’ve seen that faith displayed in my family due to the struggles they’ve gone through and come out of and that is essentially the thing I see that’s missing here (granted many people are on fire for God so I don’t want to undermine them). For the most part, in countries such as America, most people have a moderately good life; they can feed and clothe themselves without worry, they have a job to continue paying the bills, the government isn’t corrupt (to a crazy extent) so this creates an environment of security and self-reliance. This alone isn’t bad but I feel that as we’re walking out our faith and relationship with God, if we’re not careful we can easily slip into a state where we feel that because we can earn a living we don’t necessarily need God “as much”. This very problem is what I believe Jesus is targeting as he addresses this last letter to Laodicea.
The Church of Laodicea doesn’t have any redeeming qualities similar to the Church of Sardis. They’re not on fire for the Lord and doing his will but at the same time they’re not worshiping other gods and wallowing in depravity, although this position isn’t the best to be in either. They’re just on the fence in their relationship with God, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot” (Revelation 3:15). They believe that because they’re doing well in life, they have no use for anything else which may extend to their relationship with Christ, but Jesus makes it clear that this way of thinking is opposite to reality, “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 2:17). The last part of this speaks volumes to the true nature of the human condition, whether it’s thousands of years ago or today; without a connection to our creator, humans are constantly in search for gratification, to find that one thing that can make them whole or feel truly happy. However, that search will always lead to disappointment if you try looking anywhere else except towards Jesus, THE connection! We may feel that we don’t need God in our lives and we’ve got it all figured out and we’re doing well on our own, but in reality we’re broken.
Christ himself offers the answer to this issue – him being the answer but that’s not said directly, “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see” (Revelation 3:18). He starts off by saying they should buy “gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich”. Like we saw when examining the Church of Ephesus, this part is referencing the judgement seat of Christ where our works our tried in fire; we face loss of an eternal reward if they are burned or we gain rewards if they survive the flames (1 Corinthians 3:12-15). As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3, all our works will be tried whether they be Gold, silver, hay, or wood. Jesus tells the Laodiceans to “buy” gold tried in the fire from him meaning do works that will glorify God and expand the kingdom. Consuming your wealth with what the world has to offer doesn’t give back to Christ in anyway or aid those in need of his help. Jesus also mentions “white raiment” a reference again to the salvation we have in Christ as well as putting off our flesh and taking on our new incorruptible forms, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15:52-53).
Although Jesus doesn’t necessarily find anything he likes in terms of behavior with the Church of Laodicea, he seems to give them more words of encouragement than any of the other churches, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:19-20). These are beautiful and hope filled words. It shows Grace at its finest. Even though this was written to this specific group of people at a specific time period, this could apply to any follower of Christ today. We may backslide and begin to rely on our own strength and knowledge and lose sight of what’s really important – our first love. Even in this, Jesus rebukes us out of love and stands ready for us to come back to him. All we need to do is open the door.
I’ll end this study with the same words Christ uses at the end of each of his letters. May we continue to have ears to hear what the spirit is saying to the churches. God Bless!
“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches”, (Revelation 3:21-22)