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 realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so 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 that person, and they with me.
21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches (Revelation 3:14-22.”
As the reader begins to read this letter to Laodicea you think, “Wow! I wish I were in Laodicea hearing this read from their reader. You knew it would be Cleopas, and no not the one who met Jesus on the Road to Emmaus, but a different one. You think of how God has used him, he speaks with such eloquence and power. But there is a smugness there. He has great wealth, He is educated and gives the picture of righteousness and confidence. You would want him leading you into battle, motiviating your people, maybe building a wall around your city, but your church? Not sure.
You feel that way about many in Laodicea. It is a hard thing to explain because most of how we describe it seems very Christian. On the outward appearance it is difficult to see how this is a problem. But, it is. When you were there you could feel it. You thought of the great earthquake that hit the city many decades ago, and this city refused help from Rome and rebuilt the city on their own terms, with their own money. Was it about not taking money from Rome to not be subject to their demands on how it should be rebuilt, or was it about saving Rome money? Or was it about pure pride, look what we can do? That is my guess, but again who am I to judge.
There has always been something different about the leaders there and you can’t help but wonder as they read this prophecy if they are going to elaborate on what was said and say, “You” instead of “We.” The difference from one word to another doesn’t seem that significant. But in reality it is enourmous.
You thought about how Laodicea was a banking center to the empire. You thought about how much money and poshness there is to living in this city. You imagined if you were to be the one reading this letter or if you would dare say this to one of the ones living in the city. What would that look like? Maybe Jesus is the only one who can tell them and maybe even for the followers of Christ, they will not take His words well. They feel good about where they stand in The Invisible Kingdom.
How are they going to take being called pitiful, blind, naked and poor? I don’t know what they will do with that. I wish I was there hearing what they had to say to this right now.
I know one thing is for sure. God goes to great lengths to get the attention of His people, His church collectively. He speaks of things that particularly pertain to Laodicea. We all shook our heads when He talked about buying gold back from Him. The King of Kings can even speak boring bank language, He will speak over our heads to speak to the heart of the banker. Jesus speaks of the water being neither hot nor cold. Their water supply happens to come from a hot spring that flows through and aquaduct about 5 miles into the city.
Not only does the city know this reference, but many complain about the lukewarm useless drinking water of the city. It would be better boiled for a hot drink, boiled and purified. Or it would be better to be ice cold coming out of a mountain, but like many of the residents there he will spit them out of his mouth. This church that sees themselves as alive can only be spit out, like they treat the water they dislike so much.
But, it is obvious that God is giving them the ability to repent. He speaks of those whom He loves and that is who He reproves. He is trying to give them salve to see, and clothes to wear. He is trying to help them. In other words, this church needs to repent and be God sufficient and not self-sufficent. God wants to do something with them, He is not done, but when it comes to things of Him, They are poor. If something doesn’t change He will spit them out of His mouth. Many people hearing the letter to this church do not fully understand its meaning, but Jesus went to great lengths to speak in a way they could understand in Laodicea. The reference to their water is very clear. He doesn’t go to these lengths because He needs their money, effort, or anything, but because He loves them.
To be spit out, though, What does that mean? Would their protection be gone? Do they loose the angel in charge of them? Are they open to attack? Does the enemy get them? What does it mean to be spit out of God’s mouth? But the contrast is so sharp. Who else does God tell if you overcome you can sit with me on my throne? Wow! God has them. He will help them to know Him. He will even bring them up on the throne with Him, like a little child. Overcome and God brings you up with Him.
So, what does it look like for them to grow up? How do they become more like a child.? Become less proud of self and more in awe of their heavenly Father? Man, I think of all the ways I compare myself to everyone else. God isn’t impressed, but we are impressed by Him and should be. Allow God to be the center of everyone’s awe. Help us Jesus as well as them, we want to climb up into your lap and sit on your throne. It needs to be all about you. You look at Elizabeth again and think, “Awe to have the faith of a child, again.” Help us Jesus. How easy it is for her to climb up into the lap of God Almighty. It seems a little harder for you and maybe harder for Cleopas and the other Laodiceans. But that is what is required. Thank you Jesus for pursuing us and speaking our language. Help us!
Thank you for Reading!
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