Write to Laodicea, to the Angel of the church. God's Yes, the Faithful and Accurate Witness, the First of God's creation, says: "I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You're not cold, you're not hot—far better to be either cold or hot! You're stale. You're stagnant. You make me want to vomit. You brag, 'I'm rich, I've got it made, I need nothing from anyone,' oblivious that in fact you're a pitiful, blind beggar, threadbare and homeless. Here's what I want you to do: Buy your gold from me, gold that's been through the refiner's fire. Then you'll be rich. Buy your clothes from me, clothes designed in Heaven. You've gone around half-naked long enough. And buy medicine for your eyes from me so you can see, really see. The people I love, I call to account - prod and correct and guide so that they'll live at their best. Up on your feet, then! About face! Run after God! Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I'll come right in and sit down to supper with you. Conquerors will sit alongside me at the head table, just as I, having conquered, took the place of honor at the side of my Father. That's my gift to the conquerors! Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches." (Revelation 3:14-22, The Message)
Imagine that you created an organization with your friends. You poured your heart into getting it started, deciding on the governance, and establishing the purpose to be accomplished. You were a respected leader, counselor, and advisor who people turned to and looked up to. And then the changes came. Slowly, you were left out of the decision making process. You found you didn't get called on to speak or were rarely asked for your advice anymore. The very organization you invested in so deeply now seemed to ignore you and cast you aside like yesterday's trash. It wouldn't feel very good, would it? And now, you find your key to the door doesn't even work anymore. You are trying to get back in the office, but nobody inside seems to hear you knocking.
That's exactly what the Spirit says to John in this letter to the Laodicean church. These people have become fat, dumb, and happy ... completely content in their self-made image, worldly wealth, and comfortable position. The city was a center for commerce, specializing in fine cloth and eye salve. Money flowed freely and we can easily infer that the members of this church benefited as much as anyone else in that region. Yet, in the midst of their complacency, Christ calls them out for who they really are.
They are poor. Their gold and worldly riches are worth less than nothing. He has gold to offer that cannot compare and will give it freely if they will ask. They are naked, despite their garments of the finest cloth. He offers to robe them in Himself so they will really stand out. They are blind. All the eye salve in their city cannot correct their vision. He wants to perform His work of healing on their eyes so they can see what is important rather than only that which cannot last. They've become so settled in that they actually make their Savior sick ... and He's had just about enough of it.
The Excluded Christ now stands outside the door to their hearts and knocks, asking to be let back in. And while this verse has been appropriated many times for evangelistic purposes, that really isn't the context here. This is about the Maker being left behind by a people who have "progressed" to the point where they feel they no longer require his direct involvement. He has so much to share, so much to give ... and yet, they continue to ignore the knocking and go blissfully on in their ignorance.
That's nothing like us today, now, is it? We don't exclude Christ from our lives, churches, or worship. We embrace Him and all He does ... or do we? Just how close are we to being as fat, dumb, and happy as the Laodicean's were? It doesn't happen in big steps, you know. It just happens. And, before you know it, we can't even hear that knocking at the door. Oh, we still go through the motions, but we aren't really any better than they were in the end.
As I travel my Crooked Path, I need to actively keep Christ involved in all I do. This needs to be an active, daily thing in my life. I need to guard not only myself, but my family and my extended church family as well. C.S. Lewis said it many times in Screwtape. All that need be done is to make me complacent and keep my eyes off the One who was there at the beginning. It takes an intentional action on my part to keep Christ in focus and include Him. It's what He wants for all of us, and what He brings to "supper" is beyond amazing. So, if you think you might have excluded Him, go check the door and listen for the knock.
- Has your life become complacent? Do you find yourself far more self-reliant than you should be?
- What about your worship experience? Have you let all the activity and such supplant the Object of your worship?
- Are you hot or cold? Or have you become tepid, like a glass of water that got left out overnight? If you listen, can you hear the knock at your life's door?