The Church in Laodicea and America

Revelation 3:14-22 (NIV):

14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 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.

21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

In the book of Revelation, Jesus speaks to the seven churches, which some believe to be symbolic of seven church ages. To the first six, Jesus points out their good qualities and some additional areas they must improve upon. For the most part, these six churches are following the leadership of Christ and will be rewarded in the end. However, the last church mentioned (the Church in Laodicea) does not receive the same treatment. “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Jesus does not point out anything they are doing, that is pleasing or glorying to God. Jesus condemns the Laodicean church because they are too “cozy” with the world around them and are not obedient to the leadership of Christ and the Holy Spirit. They are a worldly church.

As we look at how the Laodicean church is described, think about the state of the church in America today. Do you see any similarities? Christ describes the church in Laodicea as being: lukewarm, rich by the world’s standards, wealthy and not needing anything. Then Christ reveals their true spiritual condition: wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked (Rev. 3:17). In our own modern terms we would describe this church as being: blind to their own spiritual condition, spiritually dead, apathetic, complacent, self-deceived, self-sufficient, etc. There are many who would argue that this is the state of many of our churches in America today.

After Jesus has listed his complaints against the church he calls them to repentance. Repentance, now that’s a message that’s missing from many of our churches today! Then he instructs them to listen for his voice, and not the voice of the world around them. Many churches today try to compromise with the world around them because they don’t want to offend anyone. They have a big budget to meet so they can’t afford to offend their largest contributors. They want high attendance numbers so they avoid any message that would be offensive to anyone. Their message is crafted to make everyone feel included and to feel good about themselves. Repentance is a word they try to avoid because it does not have that inclusive feel to it that the church today likes to promote. Christ loved everyone and so should we, but we must never compromise the true Gospel message of salvation by faith and belief in Christ. And we should never try to “water-down” the true Gospel message in order to conform to the society around us.

The church in Laodicea was a self-sufficient church; they relied on themselves instead of the leadership of Christ and the Holy Spirit. Does your church follow the leadership of Christ and the Holy Spirit or does it try to conform to the world around it?

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