Summary: Laodicea has always been known as the "luke warm" church. But what caused them to be so nauseating to Jesus. Their sin was subtle but just as dangerous as any that the other churches suffered from.
OPEN: I once heard of the skipper of boat that was sinking in the ocean who frantically radioed for help. Finally, the Coast Guard answered his plea.
The Coast Guard replied: "We’re on our way. What is your position? Repeat, what is your position?"
The yachtsman responded: "I’m executive vice president of the 1st National Bank. Now, will you please hurry."
Apply: The yachtsman had misunderstood the question and was annoyed because, as far as he was concerned, who he was wasn’t important right then. Sometimes, who you are, and what you possess aren’t very important.
Once in a while I’ll read a story about a person who’s adrift at sea, or lost in a forest, or trapped on a mountain side somewhere. And after they’ve been rescued they often reflect on how unimportant all their possessions and responsibilities had seemed while they were in danger. It was only when they were in danger of losing EVERYTHING that they realized what was really important. They often explain that their possessions and their daily responsibilities had blinded and dulled their appreciation of what was most important.
I. That’s what Jesus is telling the church at Laodicea
He’s telling them that something has blinded them, something has dulled their senses, something has caused them to become spiritually poverty stricken.
Notice what Jesus tells them in verses 15-17: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm— neither hot nor cold— I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 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.”
This was a church that seemed to have everything it needed. A confident congregation, a church with a security that would be envied by other believers. But, as far as Jesus is concerned – this church was wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, naked, and so lukewarm they turn Jesus’ stomach.
Ask any Bible scholar what the Bible says about Laodicea and they’ll tell you, and almost to a man they’ll tell you this church was known as a lukewarm church. It sickened Jesus. It nauseated God.
AND YET Jesus tells them (verse 19-20) “Those whom I LOVE I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 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 him, and he with me.”
As I studied for today’s sermon, I’ll have to admit I was confused! Here was a church that greatly disappointed Jesus and yet here He is telling them how much He loves them and how much He desires to spend time with them.
II. I really struggled with what Jesus says to Laodicea:
¨ He didn’t warn them He would come like thief in night (like He did with Sardis)
¨ He didn’t threaten to remove their “lampstand” (as He did Ephesus)
¨ He didn’t berate them for tolerating false doctrine or immorality (as He did
Pergamum and Thyatira)
He’s telling Laodicea they have a serious problem. But He still loves them and wants to come in and eat with them. He wants to regain an intimacy with them that has been lost or misplaced.
What happened? What has caused this congregation to fall apart in Jesus’ eyes. What has caused them to be wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, naked, so nauseating to God?
It doesn’t seem to be false doctrine – Jesus would have told them if it was.
It doesn’t seem to be immorality – Jesus has berated other churches for that in Revelation.
And it’s doesn’t to be spiritual laziness – they do have deeds, just not very impressive ones.
The closer I looked, the more obvious Laodicea’s problem appeared. It was a sin far more subtle than anything mentioned so far in Revelation, but just as dangerous as the weaknesses that plagued the other churches. READ verse17: “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing….’”
III. You know what Laodicea’s problem was? They had too much money.
Now most churches never have that problem. So it’s rare that any church would even give any thought to being TOO rich. But apparently it can happen. It happens to Christians and it can happen to churches.
ILLUS: A man by the name of Spike Milligan once said: "All I ask is the chance to prove that money can’t make me happy." We might smile at that… But we’d like to have that chance too.
A little extra money would come in handy for all of us. How many of you would like to have just a little bit more money? There’s repairs to the house, the car. There’s Bills that we’d like to pay. That dream vacation we’d like to take.