Jesus addresses the last of the seven churches. He finds this one so bland that He wants to “spit them out.” The “just enough” church.
This church is physically opposite of the Philadelphia church. They were a little “nobody” church that Jesus said they had “little power” (verse 8). The church of Laodicea was proud of what they had achieved as a church. “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered and I need nothing” (verse 17a). They were probably a larger church where people of wealth gathered. During the time of John, I believe, all churches were “house churches” and met within people’s homes. Maybe the home being used for this body of believers was that of a wealthy person. It had all the window dressing but none of the substance.
“Not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked” (verse 17b). Jesus didn’t look at the window dressing, but at their hearts. They had what a previous pastor of mine called “flaming buns.” They were saved but had no works to show for their time with the Lord. All they cared about was making the boat. They didn’t want to pitch in and row it.
Jesus still loved this bunch even though they were a big disappointment. “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent” (verse 19). If Jesus didn’t care about them and their eternal future He wouldn’t have bothered to try and correct them. And He gave them the key to their issue in this verse: “be zealous and repent.”
They needed to throw a bit of fuel on their fire. They weren’t down to embers like the believers in Sardis but their fire was providing NO warmth and nearly useless. So how did Jesus want them to deal with their situation?
The first part was to “be zealous.” The definition of zealous is:
full of, characterized by, or due to zeal; ardently active, devoted, or diligent.
Ok. So what is zeal? The definition of zeal is:
fervor for a person, cause, or object; eager desire or endeavor; enthusiastic diligence; ardor.
In other words “Sold out for Jesus.” Start with deepening the relationship with Him, then get busy doing the works He called you to do. Devoted to Him first and to promoting His truth. Active for HIS name sake. No more sitting passively by as others do the work of the gospel.
The second part was to “repent.” They needed to truly recognize that their behavior was sin and therefore not acceptable to God. Get up and get on with the work. But NOT work for works sake but work because of the strengthening relationship with Jesus.
Jesus told them were to look for the pieces they were lacking too. “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see” (verse 18). They were to look to HIM for their supply. He had everything they needed to become what they thought they already were. They were looking at themselves with natural eyes and thought they had no needs, but their spiritual condition was in serious need. I would have put the salve first so they could truly see where they were.
I have a question for you. If they were “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked, how were they supposed to “buy” what they needed from Jesus? I believe He is using the language they best understand. They are used to buying anything they want. But their money means nothing to Jesus. His “currency” is time and relationship.
The more time you spend with Him the deeper your relationship grows. The deeper the relationship the more you rely on Him and the more you want to do what pleases Him. He then gives you the tools you need to do His work. And the work is acceptable because it is done with what He provides and done out of love; for Him and those He loves. You put in the time and He provides the tools.
Father God, I don’t want to just barely make it into Your Kingdom. I want the crown You promised those who do Your works. I don’t mind if mine is smaller than some of the others. NO WAY will mine compare to someone like Billy Graham or Paul. It’s not really even the “crown” but the impact I can have for You on other people’s lives. I WANT them to know You like I do. I want them to love You and experience Your love in return.
That was one of the greatest joys of leading praise with the children. I could see the joy on their faces and they participated in songs of praise to You. I miss those moments. Where I’m at now is a lot more isolated as far as seeing the impact. I PRAY that what I share brings joy to others and helps them deepen their relationship with You, but I don’t often get to see that fruit.
I pray I’m not blind to the truth about the “work” I’m doing. I don’t want to think I’m “rich” when I’m really “pitiless and poor.” I want to be doing YOUR works with YOUR tools and be zealous in all I put my hand to for You. Don’t let me give up halfway through. Thank You for being with me today and showing me little tidbits along the way. Keep the learning flowing Holy Spirit; every day! And stir my fire!