We have made it to the final book of the New Testament! What a journey! Only a few days left…
In todays reading, we read more of what Jesus said to the seven churches in Asia. The one that stands out most to me is the church of Laodicea. Let’s take a moment to consider more deeply what Jesus has to say about that church, and possibly (if we’re honest), what He would say about ours.
I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.Revelation 3:15–16, ESV
Yowsa! Jesus knows our works! Nothing is hidden (for better or for worse) from His sight.
In the case of the church of Laodicea, they were neither hot nor cold. Neither interested nor disinterested. They were just sort of blah. Whatever. Who cares? That is not how Jesus wanted them to be, and it is not how He wants us to be today? Apparently Jesus finds that attitude to be repulsive. He opts to spit out of His mouth those who are lukewarm, like those in the first century Laodicean church.
For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.Revelation 3:17, ESV
This church obviously lacked sober judgement. They said they were rich, prospering, and needing nothing, but in reality they were wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
How about us? Do we have a sober judgement of our current state? Do we realize our deep need for Jesus?
I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.Revelation 3:18, ESV
The Laodiceans were proud of their ability to create wealth in the marketplace. They were successful merchants of clothing and medicinal salve. Jesus was telling them in this statement that the clothing, salve, and riches created and acquired by humans hands are worthless compared to the clothing, salve, and riches being offered by the omnipotent Creator of the world.
Do we settle and allow ourselves to be satisfied by what the world has to offer, or are we seeking what we need from Jesus?
Let’s look at one last statement:
Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.Revelation 3:19, ESV
Jesus was not impressed by the Laodiceans. They were lukewarm. Because they were neither hot nor cold, He declared that He would spit them out of His mouth. They were wrong in their understanding of who they were, and lacking in their understanding of Whose they were! But He loved them.
In fact, it was because of this love, not in spite of it, that He offered this stinging rebuke. Those whom He loves, He disciplines. So be zealous and repent.
How much of what Jesus had to say to the Laodiceans should be said to us today? Are we willing to hear it?
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.Revelation 3:22, ESV
Okay, so there is a LOT going on here in the book of Revelation. I am not going to get into the end-times conversation. I’m not going to make any deeply theological statements. I want to avoid that with this 44 Days Through the New Testament challenge, if at all possible.
What I would like to point out, instead, is this strange dialogue that happens between John and one of the elders before the throne of heaven.
Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.Revelation 7:13–14, ESV
Did that conversation strike you as odd? It sure did for me. The elder addressed John, who is for whatever reason given a glimpse into the heavenly throne room and is given a glimpse into future pending events, and he asks John a strange question.
“Who are these people… And from where did they come?”
That seems like a strange question to ask John, who is clearly the visitor in the scenario. John has no idea. “Sir, you know…” he says. And, of course, the elder does know.
“They are…” and the elder goes on to tell him exactly who they are.
So why did this strange dialogue stand out to me tonight as I was reading the text? Let me try to explain.
I believe that God, obviously, knows everything. That is literally what the word “omniscient” means, and we know that God is, in fact, omniscient (okay, so I went a little theological, there, but at least it has nothing to do with the end-times).
I also believe that God gives us dignity. He does not presume that we are unable to answer questions on our own, and He also wants to give us the opportunity to admit when we do not know something. This is important!
95% of people who do not know the answer to a question will make one up on the spot. In fact, I did not know how many people do that, so I made up a percentage…
John doesn’t do that here. He simply admits that he doesn’t know the answer. “Sir, you know.”
Because of his humility in this situation, John gets the answer to the question that he didn’t even ask. May we have that same level of humility in our daily interactions and conversations -especially when it comes to our daily interactions with Jesus.