Word of the Day
In Revelations, chapters two and three, we find the Lord Jesus dictating seven letters to the churches in Asia Minor. Because the number seven is the divine complete number, many theologians believe that these seven letters speak of seven dispensations of the church. In other words, these letters divide church history into seven different time periods. And if this be true, and I am one who holds to this belief, and if the common thought throughout the evangelical church be true, we are living today in the last days just before the return of the Lord Jesus, which is represented by the letter to the Church at Laodicea.
In each of these letters Jesus points to traits within the church that draws either His commendation or His condemnation. But through all these letters, Jesus presents one great truth and that truth is “…I know thy works…”. While we don’t like to face reality, the Lord Jesus Christ sees and knows the condition of His Church throughout the entire period of church history. It really is HIS Church, HIS Body and He sees and knows just what and how we are doing. In some cases, the church being spotlighted gains His smiling approval and in other cases, the church gains His frowning disapproval.
In studying these letters, they really do represent conditions that existed in each church addressed in that day. These were real churches whom the Lord Jesus addressed at that time, but they do also represent the church, again, throughout church history.
And, again, if all this be true, we find the modern church being represented by the Letter to the Laodicean Church(3:14-22), which, even in that day, was in terrible condition. Laodicea was a commerce and trade center in that day and trade routes went through the area, bringing money and all sorts of goods available in that day. It was a wealthy city, it had a medical center there that was the envy of the medical world throughout the Roman Empire and they were very comfortable in their living. The populace there was for the most part, wealthy, élite and what we might classify as being “high-class”.
In other words, for that day, Laodiceans had everything and were the envy of the empire because they had it made!
But, just one thing was wrong in this environment. The wealth, the elitism, the comfort spilled over into the church. Search the gospel and contrary to much accepted teaching today, “wealth and health” just does not fit in. Nowhere in the Bible are we taught that we can have Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and hold onto the world at the same time. We are called to make a choice between the two. Fence straddling simply is not part of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
But human nature is very greedy and self-centered. It is all about I, me and mine! Nothing else really matters as long as I have mine! And when I do have mine, I can take what I have into the church and find that I am welcomed with open arms and given the best seats! This does not sit well today, but truth never does–most deacons in most churches are chosen simply because they sit in the choicest seats. They are chosen to “serve” simply because of their position in the community and their higher incomes.
Again, I know that doesn’t sit well,and if you are a deacon, please look at your place in the community and the church. And look at your lifestyle, is it what the Bible calls for as being “full of faith and the Holy Spirit and wisdom”(Acts 6:3)? Nowhere does the Bible look at a man’s financial standing in order to serve as a deacon. But, in today’s church the choice is based on politics and not qualifications.
Please understand I am not just trying to offend, accuse or embarrass anyone! I know that many very godly folks, men and women, are serving in local churches across America and I praise God for every one of them! But, I also know that these are the exception, and not the rule. Most people are serving in capacities in churches who are either conned, arm-twisted or chosen because of politics. FOLKS, WE ARE IN A MESS TODAY!! My grandmother, who had no education at all(she couldn’t even read her own name), had a way of saying this same thing, and it was, “We are just blowed-up suckers!”
I don’t mean to throw stones at anyone, but, like the Laodicean Church, today’s church is rotten to the core. And if that hurts, please look again at the church at Laodicea. It was money, position, possessions–the “good life”! In the entire letter there is no mention of poverty, of love, of humility, of giving, of compassion, and for that matter, no mention of serving Jesus Christ! It again was all about I, me and mine! Sound familiar?
If we search the New Testament, we find the emphasis to be on loving, giving, humility, caring for others, knowing what it is to “take the back seat”–in summary, the gospel is about others, not me and mine!
But, nowhere in this letter do any of these appear! And Jesus Christ castigates them for it and finds nothing to commend them about! And as I survey the church today, I don’t see a lot to commend us about today, either.
O, we have the finest in facilities. We build the most elaborate buildings and we adorn them with the latest! In fact, it seems almost as if we try to outdo everyone else when we build OUR building, when we fill it with the finest that money can buy, and hold our “dedicatory” service, dedicating OUR building to the Lord!
When Jesus dictated this letter, He said of the Laodicean church, “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….” that “…I will spue thee out of My mouth..”(vv.16,17). And it is to this church that we find our Lord saying, “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 sup with him, and he with me”(v.20).
While we use this verse evangelistically, that is NOT the emphasis Jesus is NOT inviting folks to “open the door of their heart and let Him in” at all! While they do need to turn to Him in repentance and faith, here He is trying to get into His own church!!
And O, how we “churchmen” need to hear that “knock” and let the Risen Christ back into His own Church!!!