“You have access to a world of knowledge on the phone in your pocket, but you have no wisdom.” Would this be something God would say to many of us in the church today if he were to speak to us in the same way he spoke to the church in Laodicea in the book of Revelation?
In showing Laodicea where they fell short, God used prominent features of their culture. He said in essence, “You have all these wonderful things in your cultural experience, but you are wretched and do not even know it.” Some key features of the culture surrounding the church were springs of hot and cold water, extreme wealth and admiration, and the production of fine black wool and eye salve.
These features of the culture are essential to keep in mind when we read the critique of the church. God says, “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).
Did you catch that? Their spiritual condition was the exact opposite of their physical reality. They were wealthy and admired in terms of money, but they were poor and pitiable spiritually. They had eye salve, but they were blind. They had fine black wool, but they were naked. And the most famous of all, they had hot and cold water, but they were lukewarm, and God was ready to spew them out of his mouth (Revelation 3:15).
Following this pattern of applying the significant features of their culture to point out their spiritual condition, I wonder what God would say to us. Here are a few elements of our culture with possible corresponding critiques.
- You have gigantic televisions that light up your face, but your hearts are small and dark.
- You are rich in streaming entertainment, but your soul is impoverished.
- You have religious freedom, but you are in bondage to the culture.
- You have advanced healthcare, but your soul is sick.
- You have storehouses filled with food but are in a spiritual famine.
- You have comfortable homes that shelter you but are spiritually exposed.
- You have access to an endless supply of music, but you have no true joy.
- You have social media but no spiritual community.
- You are brave in your political stances but afraid to share my gospel.
- You are admired through likes and retweets, but your soul is starving for love.
- You have constant communication but no prayer life.
- You have a finely curated online image but no substance.
- You have sexual license but barred from intimacy.
- You have employment but no calling on your life.
- You have soft beds but no rest.
Ultimately, I think he would say you feel comfortable abandoning my word because you feel safe in the large group of people doing the same, and the laws of the land protect you in your perversion. Still, you are on a broad road headed towards destruction. He would go on to say. Therefore I counsel you to grow in the knowledge of my word, nourish your soul, let your face shine with the light of my love, and reject the comfort of walking with the crowd headed to destruction. Instead, repent and turn to me, who can save your soul and bless you with every spiritual blessing.
I realize there are faithful churches around us today, and I believe the Lord would commend them where they are standing firm, but in light of the broader culture, I believe these assessments, though not the word of God, contain some truth to which we should all take heed.
“Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. Anyone who hears my voice and opens the door, I will come to him and eat with him and he with me. He who has ears let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:19-20,22).