What is your favorite sport? Is it football (aka “soccer”), American football, baseball, an Olympic-style sport? Whichever you prefer, at some time the competition gets to where the best in that sport meet to decide who is the champion. Maybe it’s a fight for the Olympic gold medal, or the Premier League championship, or the MLB World Series or maybe even the Superbowl. In that competition the winningest teams or individuals meet to see who will, well, win!
Every player will wear the uniform of his team. The jerseys have the name & logo of their respective teams, the player’s number & the player’s name. I’m sure the players are proud to have been chosen to wear those uniforms.
What does this have to do with our spiritual evaluation? I simply want to remind us about part 6 of our evaluation which was taken from Revelation 3:7-13, the letter to the church in Philadelphia. In Rev 3:12, we read that the faithful believers of that church – whether of the city of ancient Philadelphia or the faithful believers of all ages whom they represent – will at some point in the future be chosen to wear the name of Almighty God, the name “New Jerusalem” & Jesus’ new Name.
All believers will be humbled & proud to be part of that team!
But the choice to be on that team will be ours. Will we choose to be like the believers from the church in Philadelphia, or will we choose to be like the believers from whose testimony we get the 7th part of our Spiritual Evaluation, those in the church of the Laodiceans.
Laodicea, was a city of great wealth, commerce & Greek culture. Cicero held court there. It had an excellent (for that time) medical school. It had an amphitheater which seated 30,000 & was filled almost every day with people wanting to be entertained. Laodicea, was very affluent.
Unusually for a city in that part of the world, Laodicea was not militarily defensible. They were constantly threatened by other cities. Like Switzerland today, the Laodiceans were always making deals & compromising in order to ensure their existence.
Laodicea was leveled by an earthquake about 60 AD. When the Roman government came with help, due to their wealth the Laodiceans said “We have need of nothing.” They could afford to rebuild without government money.
But this self-sufficient attitude had crept into the local church. The believers of Laodicea thought their material wealth was an indication that God was blessing them for their spirituality. Nothing could have been further from the truth.
Jesus hit the nail on the head in His address this congregation. To them He says, “to the church of the Laodiceans.”
“the church OF the Laodiceans” as opposed to ‘the church IN Laodicea’
This is an important distinction.
Laodicea comes from 2 words: laos = the people & dice (dee-kay) = rights of
Laodicea means ‘the rights of the people’ or ‘the people rule’
At least in the first six letters we understand that the Lord is addressing His Bride, the Church. Not in this letter. He calls it what it is – their church, not His. The people in this church had usurped leadership from Christ. This church was led by the people, not by the Holy Spirit.
Somewhere, somehow the Laodiceans had gotten their eyes off the Lord.
Laodiceans, wherever you may be, this is addressed to you.
In Deuteronomy 8:11-17, the Lord warned national Israel not to allow material wealth cause them to forget the Lord, and not to rely upon their material wealth instead of God.
The Laodiceans had not heeded this warning. Their hearts had wandered. They trusted in their material riches. This materialism led to deeper compromises of the truths found in God’s Word.
They forgot about the Lord. Since this is an issue of the heart, Jesus, speaks to their hearts.
To their hearts Jesus says, “You have no passion.”
v.16 – “YOU are lukewarm.” The Laodiceans had no passion one way or the other regarding the Lord. Their religious practice was clinical, sterile, mundane.
Though their works might have been very philanthropic or humanitarian in nature & helpful regarding the social needs of needy people, those works were spiritually distasteful to God. He will spew the lukewarm Laodiceans out of His mouth.
“spew” is a Koine Greek word that means disgorge; vomit; hurl; a violent expulsion of something that is not good for the body.
Yet the Laodiceans didn’t recognize their own spiritual condition. Why? Because they no longer looked to God’s Word for absolute truth. They looked at the world & took direction from what they saw with their eyes. They walked by sight, not by faith.
They were in need of a Spiritual Self-Evaluation!
On the outside Laodicea looked great. It was wealthy & busy. But material prosperity – large congregations, many outreach ministries, nice church buildings, money in the church bank account & physical health – are not accurate indicators of spiritual condition.
The truth about the Laodiceans is that they had no spiritual passion for Christ. From Heaven’s point of view they were: wretched, miserable & poor. Though they had wealth for their flesh, they had no provision for their own souls – and they didn’t even know it.
In a city that produced eye medicine, this church was spiritually blind.
In fairness, none of these 7 churches had an accurate estimate of themselves. We too must be careful not to overestimate our spirituality. We must continually measure ourselves by God’s standards as found in His Word.
The Laodiceans of the 1st c AD, were not only prosperous. For the sake of being friends with everyone & in order not to invite attack, Laodicea was a politically neutral city like the modern nations of Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland & Ireland.
Political neutrality might be helpful at times. But spiritual neutrality leads to spiritual death.
Matt 12:30 “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.”
For the sake of your eternal soul, spiritual neutrality is not an option.
Self Evaluation Time!
Do you find that your passion for Christ has waned? Is it difficult to get motivated to attend church services regularly? Do you struggle with mid-week Bible study or being active in church activities?
What can you do?
Our “Wonderful Counselor” [Is 9:6], does not cast off or reject the lukewarm, Laodiceans. He teaches them how to “heat up” – how to rekindle their relationship with Him again.
If your relationship with the Lord has cooled off what can you do?
#1 – Get into the fire.
Lord Nelson, Admiral of the English Navy, knew that the Battle of Trafalgar would determine the fate of Europe. Before that battle he assembled his men and said, “Gentlemen, in case you cannot read the signals in the heat of battle (semaphore), know this: No captain in this fleet can do wrong if he places his ship alongside that of the enemy.”
“Captains, if you can’t read my signals & you don’t know what to do, then do this – engage the enemy in battle.”
Get in the battle! Go for it! If you are not certain of the Lord’s marching-orders for you today, you can’t go wrong if you share your faith with others or take a stand for what is right against what is wrong according to God’s standards.
#2 – Be clothed with white raiment.
But many people, including believers, are “going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
Isaiah 64:6 “…all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags”
Have you reverted to doing things that seem good to you without verifying with the Lord, what He wants you to do? Like the Laodiceans, have you usurped the Lord’s leadership of your life?
#3 – Come to Jesus & allow Him to anoint your eyes with eye-salve.
Hear what the Spirit says to the Churches.
In His Hands, Pastor Fran