Reading: Revelation 3:14-22
Today we examine the seventh and final church: Laodicea. Perhaps Laodicea has the worst rebuke from Jesus; he labels them the church that nauseates him! (16)
Ten miles to the east of Laodicea was Colossae, renowned for refreshingly cold springs. Six miles to the north was Hierapolis, famous for its medicinal hot springs. Laodicea was on a raised plateau, far from any springs it was forced to transport its water by a series of stone aqueducts. Arriving at Laodicea the water was tepid, lukewarm and often sulphurous; Jesus tells them that their faith is like their water supply – horrible. They as a church are neither refreshing to the spiritually weary or healing to the spiritually sick. Instead they are self-indulgent, half-hearted and insincere. He says they are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked (17).
So Jesus tells this church they are finished and he will utterly destroy them…only he doesn’t. He tells them that they are only one step away from him.
He tells them that he loves them, that this stinging rebuke comes precisely because of his great love for them (19). They are way off track, wandered so far from the way they don’t even know it! ‘You think you are rich’, Jesus says, ‘but it’s not true, you have settled for something less than me.’ He tells them he longs to eat with them, share fellowship and love with them, but he is shut outside the church. All they have to do is open the door and let him in. (20) There is no sin too great for God’s grace. There is no habit too big for his healing. There is no label too strong for his love.
It is often easier in life to shut Jesus out, it’s easier for churches and us to hide behind ‘fig leaves’, smoke screens of great activity, even beautiful liturgy and yet have no love for Jesus, no passion for him having locked down, shut up hearts. We stop praying daring prayers, we stop taking risks for God, even refuse to open our hearts to others, scared we will have them broken.
CS Lewis writes,
“Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least the risk of tragedy, is damnation…To love is to be vulnerable.”
Jesus is asking us to open the door to our hearts, will you?
“Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:7-10)
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. (20)
Father, I want a lifetime of holy moments. Every day I want to be in dangerous proximity to Jesus. I long for a life that explodes with meaning and is filled with adventure, wonder, risk, and danger. I long for a faith that is gloriously treacherous. I want to be with Jesus, not knowing whether to cry or laugh. In Jesus name. Amen (Words of prayer by Mike Yaconelli)
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