Summary: Are you poor, wretched, and blind? Then you have some shopping to do.
Title: Laodicea: For the Man who has everything
Text: Rev 3:14-22 (The Church @ Laodicea)
FCF: Eternal things are not purchased with gold and silver, but rather with the tribulation that is the gift of God.
SO: Ideally, my congregation would come to realize that relying on Christ isn’t something you do just in times of trouble – it’s the very manner of life Christ expects.
Text MP: Don’t be deceived into thinking that your own power and wealth mean anything. Complacency and self-sufficiency are incompatible with a Christ-like life.
Only the eternal things are worth anything. If you are complacent, focus on acquiring these things.
Forgive me for saying this in July, but every year around Christmas time, it’s always the same deal. There’s always one guy – one guy you know who has everything. So, what could you possibly get him? That question haunts our Christmas shopping, but it’s also the same question Jesus is asking in this, the last of his messages to his churches. Only, here in Laodicea, things aren’t exactly as they appear.
You see Laodicea was a rich, prosperous town. They were situated at the crossroads of three major highways, and they had made their money in financing, black wool, and the supposed healing qualities of their mud.
Just up the road was the Hot Springs of their day, and they had set up an aqueduct in the hopes of bringing some of that soothing water into town. Unfortunately, however, for them, they were able to bring the water, but not really the heat. And so, the water that flowed into Laodicea wasn’t really hot enough for the Jacuzzi, but it wasn’t cold enough to drink. Instead, it was this putrid, lukewarm water that wasn’t really good for anything. And so, when it came time to send a message to Laodicea, John knew exactly what to say – You guys think you have it all, but really you’re just worthless.
Indeed, Jesus says here – I would that you were either cold or hot. But as it, well, I’m going to spew. And yes, that is a valid translation.
You see, Laodicea is the exact opposite of Philadelphia. You’ll remember last week – Philly was a small little town. It didn’t have much, but the Christians there knew one simple fact – Christ was enough for them. Operating in his power, they were doing fine.
Contrast this with Laodicea. Here was a prosperous town. They had money, they had power. But they had grown so rich, that they began listening to the lie – “Do you really need Jesus?” You know, the American dream is often epitomized by the “self-made man.” It’s really a very subtle thing to think – oh, I’m rich, I’m powerful, I’m content with who and what I am. What more do I need?
Sadly, the truth is, that’s when you need Christ – more than ever.
You know, in 1971, Muhammed Ali was preparing for a fight with Joe Frazier. At the press conference, this is what he said:
There seems to be some confusion. We’re gonna clear this confusion up on March 8. We’re gonna decide once and for all who is king! There’s not a man alive who can whup me. (He jabs the air half a dozen blinding lefts.)
I’m too smart. (He taps his head.)
I’m too pretty. (He lifts his head high in profile, turning as a bust on a pedestal.)
I AM the greatest. I AM the king! I should be a postage stamp—that’s the only way I could get licked!
Now, we all know that in boxing, self-confidence is key, and frankly I could have pulled out similar quotes from Mike Tyson, George Foreman, Sugar Ray Leonard – but what I thought was so amusing about this one was that on that March 8th, Ali lost. No, he was “whupped” by Frazier. This pride that happens before a fall – hubris as the Greeks called it – is epidemic in our society.
But you see, our pride isn’t limited to just our rhetoric. It isn’t just the speeches that betray our true feelings. I ran across this from an article entitled “The Art of Being a Big Shot,” by a very devout layman named Howard Butt. The insight he has here is fascinating, so allow me to read the whole paragraph if you will:
It is my pride that makes me independent of God. It’s appealing to me to feel that I am the master of my fate, that I run my own life, call my own shots, go it alone. But that feeling is my basic dishonesty. I can’t go it alone. I have to get help from other people, and I can’t ultimately rely on myself. I’m dependent on God for my next breath. It is dishonest of me to pretend that I’m anything but a man—small, weak, and limited. So, living independent of God is self-delusion. It is not just a matter of pride being an unfortunate little trait and humility being an attractive little virtue; it’s my inner psychological integrity that’s at stake. When I am conceited, I am lying to myself about what I am. I am pretending to be God, and not man. My pride is the idolatrous worship of myself. And that is the national religion of Hell!