14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
How does one simply decide to be zealous about the things of God that pertain to Jesus and His gospel? Truly, the grace of God works all things in us—including chastening when it is necessary.
When we belong to Jesus but our heart is going after this world, He might allow this world to hurt us so that we will realize how much better He is. The things that Jesus has to offer are far more precious and meaningful than all the riches of this world.
However, it would be better if we could avoid chastening and instead turn to Jesus who is already there standing at the door. If we come to Him and repent of our love of this world, then there is no need for us to be chastened.
The real trouble is when a worldly Christianity is the norm—a Christianity that claims that a person can love the world and love Jesus too.
Jesus teaches us that “you cannot serve God and mammon (worldly riches).”
When serving God and mammon are not only commonplace, but praised, how can one come out of the mindset of the Laodiceans? As Jesus stated, they do not see their true state. They think that they have all that they need. Something would have to open their eyes to how “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” they are.
Maybe some would find this out without chastening. However, it seems to be unlikely depending on how deep their love of this world goes.
It is good to know that God chastens every son that He loves. I believe that the real challenge for the Laodiceans is learning how to bear that chastening in faith. They have to trust in God and not this world. They have to turn to Jesus more fully, become zealous about Him, and form a real relationship with Him. If they continue in the faith despite the challenges that come as the things that they have loved and trusted in are removed from them, then they will overcome.
As they overcome, they are given something more precious than all the vain things of this world: a close relationship with Jesus. Sitting with Him in His throne is not just about power or authority, though He can give both as He deems. What really matters is the closeness to Christ Himself. He is the real inheritance of the children of God—and we too become sons of God through Him.
We must overcome this world and a love of it, and this is hard when we have many things in this world to distract us and seduce us away from Jesus. However, it does not matter how well off we are financially, if we do not have Jesus truly, then we truly do not have anything—and there is always more of Him that we need.
We might have a relationship with Jesus, but we should never become lukewarm about Him. We always need more. There is more of Him to learn, more of Him to be formed in us, and more that He would have us to do as His servants in this world. We cannot consider ourselves rich in Him overmuch either, or we might find ourselves growing stagnant.
Being poor in spirit is what matters most. As Jesus teaches, “blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” We never have enough of Jesus—though He is more than enough. We can be thankful for all that He has done for us and recognize His work in our lives while continuing to appreciate an on-going need for Him. If we become “lukewarm,” then He might put us into circumstances that bring our spirits down a notch so that we can refocus and return to Him more fully.
If we have riches in this life—and if we live in the West, then we most likely do—we should take care that a love of this world does not make us half-hearted towards Jesus. He is what really matters.
If we have riches in the Spirit as we learn of Jesus and are gifted by Him, then we should remain humble before Him, always knowing that anything we have came from Him, and we always need more.
We all fall short of His perfection. Only His blood perfects us, but having received His sacrifice, we should be serious about Him and find out what He would have us to do with all that He died to provide for us.
The gospel of the kingdom is not just some far off idea—it is a present idea when Jesus lives in us though the Holy Spirit. The more we walk in the Spirit, the more we walk in His kingdom that comes “not with observation” and is “within you.”
However, Jesus will return also, and we want to be His when this happens. We cannot belong to Him and belong to this world also. Jesus said of His disciples, “they are not of the world even as I am not of the world.” He also prayed that that the Father would not take them out of this world, but that He would deliver them from evil.
We cannot escape this world and the troubles of this world, but we can find an escape from temptations that would devour our faithfulness to Jesus–and this world is full of such temptations.
We can live in this world and we might even be able to prosper. The Holy Spirit will convict us. Jesus stands at the door. If a love of this world is keeping us from opening up to Him, then He will let us know.
This can take many forms. This isn’t just a love of wealth. This can also be a love of people. Jesus wants us to love people. However, sometimes in our desire to be at peace or to please people around us, we deny the hard things that Jesus has called us to. Sometimes we fear emotionally hurting people that we love, and we know that we will if we follow Jesus as we should. Sometimes we fear being rejected or outcast by people that we love, respect, and value.
Jesus must come first in all things, and it seems that the more He comes first—especially in a Laodicean world—the less we might have in this world financially and socially. However, nothing that we lose here compares to what we have to gain in Him!
We cannot be like Lot’s wife. Do not look back at this dying world. Look to Jesus. Even when this world seems to be closing in; if we call out to Jesus in humility, honesty, and faith, He will give us strength and guidance to overcome the deceitfulness of riches, the seduction of sin, and the false securities of this world.
NEXT: These Things Saith He — Scripture for the Laodiceans
The above is the draft version of a chapter to a book I plan to write and publish in a manner that is free of charge to the public.
I wrote in These Things Saith He: Contents that I will publish the drafts here first and offer opportunity for others to share their thoughts before the final work is completed.
I’m open to and greatly value the insight, experiences, and thoughts of my Christian brethren because we are a body knit together in Christ that is meant to work together without over reliance on our leaders. I am not your leader, but I do try to be faithful to what I have received to the best of my ability, and I look to Jesus for gracious judgment of my service and the service of all who truly love Him.