Laodicea - The Foolish Church
A Christian physician gave a message on the subject, "The People Jesus Won?t Save!" He used this illustration: "While I was in residence at the Mayo Clinic, a lady who had suffered for many years came for an examination. We found that she could be helped through surgery and proper medication. Before leaving the clinic she suggested that her husband have a checkup, although he appeared to be in good physical condition. At first he refused, saying, ?I?m not sick; I?m perfectly healthy. I don?t need a doctor.? But at his wife?s insistence, he finally yielded, and received the tragic news that he had a cancerous tumor in his chest which would soon end his life! Since it had not affected any nerves, he experienced no pain. Yet he was a dying man. Many sinners are likewise deluded into thinking they are spiritually healthy when actually they are inflicted with the deadly disease of sin that can doom them forever."
That is the picture we see of Laodicea. They thought they were doing just wonderful; they had all the answers. They thought they were on top of the world, but in reality, they were dying.
I. The City That Stood For Nothing
A. A City of Compromise
1. The city was a very wealthy city.
2. It had great commerce and trade.
3. The city was a study in compromise.
a) They didn?t offend anyone by pushing any particular beliefs in their city.
b) They even integrated several cultures together with no one seeming to dominate the other.
B. A city of accomplishments
1. Laodicea developed a reputation for several great accomplishment.
2. They had the premier medical school of their time.
3. They had developed an eye salve that helped people see better.
4. They made a killing by raising sheep that had a glossy black wool.
5. Their had a great banking system that many other cities tried to model.
6. They were so wealthy that when the city was destroyed in 66 AD, they turned down Rome?s offer of financial assistance and rebuilt the city on their own.
C. Lousy water
1. About 6 miles away was the town of Heiropolis. It was known far and wide for its hot springs and the healing they brought. Laodicea didn?t have a local water supply and so built a stone aquaduct from Heiropolis to bring them water. By the time it got there, it was tepid and absolutely terrible to drink. It was filled with the minerals from the hot springs. Yet it was too cold to have the healing effects the water had in Heiropolis.
2. In Colossea a few miles to the south, they had clear cold water that was the pride of the region. Even in the hottest part of the summer, their water was cold and refreshing.
3. Laodicea didn?t have useful hot water or useful cold water. Just that terrible luke-warm water.
II. A Church That Stood For Nothing
A. A Church of Compromise
1. All my life, when I heard sermons about Laodicea and it being luke-warm, it was in conjunction with a church that was doing it?s business half-heartedly.
a) They weren?t on fire for God, and they weren?t just dead spiritually.
b) They were just hanging in there with no fire or zeal.
2. I want to challenge us to look at what John is saying that they were completely useless because they compromised the truth.
a) Their message wasn?t useful for healing or refreshing.
b) It was a mixture of compromise that was a putrid tasting to God as the water was to the Laodiceans.
3. Its great for a city to find the perfect compromises, but unacceptable for a church.
B. A Study in Contrast
1. This was a congregation that seemed to have it all.
a) They were wealthy, seemingly respected, socially acceptable.
b) They were every church?s dream.
c) They looked so good on the outside.
2. God knows the hearts of man and of a church.
3. Philadelphia didn?t have anything bad said against them by God. Laodicea didn?t have anything good said about they by God.
4. He didn?t see them in such a positive light.
a) They were known for wealth and self-reliance, but in God?s eyes they were;
(1) poor - all that wealth meant nothing spiritually
(2) Blind - one of the worst things that could happen to you back then was to be blind or otherwise disabled. The disabled were left to die or somehow survive on the charity of others. Their famous eye salve wouldn?t be of any help to them.
b) They thought they had all the gold they needed, but they didn?t have the right gold.
5. Their black wool was no good as God demanded white clothes
C. God gives them hope
1. Ken Blanchard writes: "When my son Scott was a senior in high school, he used to cause problems by parking his truck in the driveway. Nobody could get in or out because his truck was big enough to go to war. I always told him to park it out in the street."One day I came home to find he?d not only blocked the driveway with his truck but had gone away and taken his keys with him. I was furious. Three hours later he showed up, and I was waiting for him. I stormed out of the house and let him have it. I didn?t leave him in doubt about what he?d done wrong and how I felt about it. As I was walking back to the house, Scott raced after me. He followed me into the kitchen. "`Dad,? he said, `you forgot the last part of the reprimand--you know, the part about "You?re a good kid, I love you, and this is so unlike you."? "I cracked up laughing. We hugged. Scott never left his truck in the driveway again. And I got better at reaffirming at the end of a reprimand. [Everyone?s a Coach by Don Shula and Ken Blanchard. Zondervan, 1995.]
2. God doesn?t condemn them and end any hope for them.
3. He rebukes yes, he disciplines yes.
4. But look at vs 19 as to why he does that. READ
5. He loves them.
6. He wants them to repent
III. God is knocking
A. God doesn?t force himself on us
1. He has shown us the gospel.
2. He lets us know what we need to do to be with him.
3. He even knocks on the door, but we choose whether or not we?ll open it.
4. If we do, He will enter and fellowship with us.
5. He longs for that intimate relationship.
a) Will you open the door?