Slightly Obsessed #108: Living in Laodicea

 

The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.

– Revelation 22:17

 

Facilitating small fellowships in rural areas can be challenging.

As the only facilitator for the ladies’ Bible study in a small church in a small town, I never knew if anyone would even be there from week to week. One day I arrived breathless and late to open the church for the study, frustrated at my own tardiness.

As I drove up, I saw no one was there. A rush of relief washed over me as I realized I now had a free evening, followed by an instant pang of guilt. Stricken, I unlocked the door and sat in the cold, empty sanctuary. I played the beautiful old piano in the corner and grieved over my hard heart.

I’ve missed plenty of Bible studies in my day. And I never worried about it because life is hard and busy. But this was different. A deep sadness welled within me. I knew it was from God. I had been dutifully serving Him, but with a divided, distracted heart.

Yes, life is busy. I have plenty of great excuses for setting Him aside. They’re just not enough anymore. In the night falling over the world, God is calling out His people. A locked door and a cold sanctuary do not make a fitting throne for a King.

John’s letter to the churches included this rebuke to the church at Laodicea:

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot…So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, so that you may become rich, and white garments that may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock.

– Revelation 3:14-20

When the Laodicea believers read the reproof, they knew exactly what He meant.

Laodicea was one of three famous cities of the Lycos River valley. Six miles to the north of it lay Hierapolis, a city boasting hot springs and thermal baths. Ten miles to the east lay Colossae, known for its pure, cold springs. Laodicea had to pipe water from a spring five miles away. The water was so heavy with minerals that it slowly clogged the pipes. By the time it reached the city, it was tepid. This foul, lukewarm water was nauseating, explaining Jesus’ threat to spit it out of His mouth.

Laodicea was such a wealthy city that when it was destroyed by an earthquake in 60 A.D., the citizens turned down Roman aid and rebuilt it themselves. It was famous for the black cloth woven from the beautiful wool from its sheep. The citizens were proud of their black clothing, but Jesus saw them as naked and advised them to be clothed in the white clothes of His righteousness.

The city sat near a quarry from which came a powder used to make eye salve. Jesus saw their blindness and told them to anoint their eyes with the salve He offered to restore their sight.

The letter to Laodicea wasn’t written to non-believers. He was talking to His church.

His own people were blind, naked, poor, and lukewarm.

I am Laodicea, too full of the world’s cares to see my emptiness. I have been too blind with duty to notice my spiritual nakedness, too busy with the temporal to live in eternity.

Thank God, He loves me enough to reprove me. Today, Jesus stands at the door of our hearts. He knocks. He waits.

How did it get closed, anyway?

Come, Lord Jesus, come.

 

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