The Revelation to John 3: 14-22 (NIV)
To the Church in Laodicea
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. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realise that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so that you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so that you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so that you can see.
19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20 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 him, and he with me.
21 To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
As mentioned in the previous note, the letters to the seven churches share a common structure. Each address begins, “To the angel of the church in …” and is followed by, “These are the words of …”. In each the Lord says, “I know your deeds,” or that he knows of their circumstances. In each the Lord makes a promise to “him who overcomes” and then counsels, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
In this note we consider another of the churches addressed by the Lord through John. Unlike the church in Philadelphia (see 11 November’s notes) the church in Laodicea was one of five which warranted condemnation.
Again we may use this letter as a warning to us. The church in Laodicea was rebuked: “So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit (literally ‘spew’) you out of my mouth.” The reason for this criticism follows immediately (verse 17); we in the wealthy “first world” might well say “Ouch!”. Obviously the Lord again made a very clear distinction between wealth on earth and “treasures in heaven” (see Matthew 6: 19-24).
We may also be heartened by this letter, that those whom the Lord loves he rebukes and disciplines. The church in Australia today is being rebuked and disciplined, even as it is being cleansed, because of abuse and neglect of the vulnerable who, in past years, had been placed in its care.
But is there any aspect of the criticism of the Laodicean church that you and I are challenged to apply at a personal level? Is there any rebuke or discipline you or I deserve but currently ignore? The Lord invites us to “be earnest and repent”.
There clearly is a reward for “him who overcomes”. Confession and repentance may be the initial moves towards full reconciliation with the one who, despite our failings, is standing at the door and knocking. Have you opened the door fully to “the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation”?