Robert Frost, one of America’s favorite poets, wrote a poem that I like very much. Listen to the words of Robert Frost as he penned in the poem, “ The Road Not Taken”:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
This is not the entire poem but we see that Robert Frost begins to, in this poem, shares with the audience a very interesting phenomenon. He shares one of the fundamental challenges of life, one of the confrontations of living. Robert Frost in this poem, speaks about one of the nomadic occasions of our exsistence, he speaks of the issue, of the phenomenon called choice. This poem shares with us the very being of us and that is the ability and the necessity of making choices in our life, in other words life choices.
Everyday we are confronted with life choices, choices that need to be made that have a direct relationship to our life. Choices like to run the yellow light or stop, to take the expressway or the back streets. Choices like to marry now or wait a little while later. For there are some divorcees’ (like my mother) who have said, If I would have just waited a little while longer in dating, I would have seen the real person come out. Life Choices. What to eat, in spite of what food scientists say, we still choose to eat certain things. I was having lunch with some friends; we were at Sylvia’s Downtown. As we sat there with menus in hand, we were deciding on what we should have to eat. The waitress came over and began to suggest entrées and answered our questions about the menu. My friend, Big Rock decided on the buffet, which featured, Fried chicken, Fried Fish, collard greens, Macaroni and Cheese, and so on. After about 3 rounds to the buffet, Rock’s girlfriend couldn’t take it anymore and she said, “Rock, you are going to kill yourself from eating all that fried Chicken and stuff,” and Rock replied back, “ When it’s my time to go, I will go and until then I will keep eating what I chose to eat!” Life Choices, not long ago in Atlanta, a young irate man was driving behind an elderly man and they came to a light. The elderly man’s van fell dead at the red light, as he tried to restart his vehicle, the young man got impatient and began blowing and sticking up rude and obscene gestures with his hands and fingers. The young man could not pass to the sides of the van because traffic was moving quickly. He kept blowing, and cursing, and physically showing his disgust to the elderly man. The light turned red again and the young man jumped out of his car, yelling and screaming at the elderly man. He approached the van in a fury and frightened the elderly man. In a twinkling of the eye the old man pulled out his gun and shot the young man in the head. Life choices.
Everyday we are faced with choices that have a direct bearing on our soul existence, on our very life. The more I think about it, Mr. Frost maybe on to something, we are faced with roads, (both seemingly offering the same benefit). We are faced with paths, available choices to have to be made, and the ones we make directly apply and affect our life. Those are Life Choices.
In our text, we see that the Church at Laodecia is facing a life choice. John the Revelator speaks to this church and delivers to them the words of Jesus, who sits as the faithful life assessor. Jesus who sits on the throne, who has direct TV if you will, peers down in our lives and occasionally makes assessments. Jesus is faithful in making life assessments, and true in the conveyance of what He finds. Jesus is faithful to the eternal purposes of God consequently Jesus is faithful to judge when judgment is required and absolutely true about what he sees, therefore he can make some assessments. To quote J Anthony Brown, “Jesus tells it like it is.” In other words he is the judge and witness all rolled into one. And so Jesus speaks to John concerning this church and Jesus tells John to deliver a word to the Laodecian Church pointing out the assessment Jesus has made, pointing out the value of this Church based on it’s actions.
Laodecia was a very interesting place. Laodecia was a famous city of great wealth and popularity. It was the commercial and financial center of the region. Laodecia was home of the millionaires, it was the Beverly Hills of the Bible; it was a Commercial power of that Context. Yea, Laodecia had wealth. They had industry. The people were rich, they were the envy of the world, they were proud of themselves. This pathological attitude found its way into the church there in Laodecia. This was the, we are “goodie two shoes” church, and inside the church the “ our wings fit well“& “ God is with us - because of”, spirit abounded in this church. The church at Laodecia. This church had taken on many of the characteristics of the city it resided in. Because of this wealth they experienced they thought that this was a sign of God’s favor. That God must be pleased with us because with all that is happening to us - it must be God. Consequently they had relaxed on their calling, they had become indifferent to the commands of God, and they had become useless to kingdom work.
These were the kind of people would stand on their successes instead of on the savior. These people were the kind who would advertise their achievements, proclaim about their private possessions, all before they would lift the savior up. They didn’t experience persecution like the other churches because they didn’t pose a threat to authorities. There was a large and influential Jewish population in town, but they apparently were willing to live and let live. The church made no demands on people, the church did not require allegiance to Christianity, no standards set, just whatever you want to do, do it. Don’t cause any trouble, don’t ruffle the feathers, just be nice people and keep the cash flowing. This church had taken on some of the characteristics of the city it resided in.
It is in this climate, in this environment, that Jesus speaks through John and gives an assessment of Laodecia. Jesus begins to share with these arrogant, bigheaded, egotistical, pompous, pretentious, and useless Christians an assessment of the situation. And don’t you know that every now and again, Jesus will make some assessments, Jesus will call you out.
Jesus says, I know your works. Now this is the only church out of the seven addressed, which is not commended. Yet Jesus says, I know your works. Jesus says, I know what you have been doing, and I want to tell you Laodecia - You are neither hot nor cold but you are lukewarm. Seemingly Christ makes a broad and ambiguous claim but rather Christ makes reference to their water supply because Laodecia had water problems. The water flowed into Laodecia from two ways. From the North Down flowed the hot water, which by time it got to Laodecia it was warm - Lukewarm. And then from the south up, the cold water ran, which once it reached Laodecia it gained heat thus becoming warm, lukewarm. The Laodecia were familiar with lukewarm water because it was all that they had. And it was useful for nothing, Imagine wanting a hot cup of coffee or tea and the only water you had was lukewarm, or perhaps on a hot summer day or a good workout, and you want a cold or at least a cool glass of water and all that you could get was something lukewarm. That would make you sick right, you would spit it out saying, "ug!"
Jesus says that you are neither hot nor cold. I know what you have been doing, I even know what you haven’t been doing and frankly you make me sick. I have the record open and I look at Laodecia, and for the life of me I can’t find one good thing to say about you. You are neither hot nor cold. I have viewed the video of your life, I rewinded it over and over again but I just can’t find anything positive, anything profitable, about you. You have become extremely skillful in arranging your lives so as to admit the truth of Christianity without being embarrassed by its implications. After all I have provided you with, all the benefits I showered your way, I can’t understand how come you are not effective and useful to the city where you live. You just make me sick.
You are a society that loves things more than you love me, you know that you can’t take things with you when you die, but yet you pride yourself on your things, on your degrees, on your income. Laodecia you make me sick, so sick I want to spit you out of my mouth. Or as The Message, says, “vomit you!”
You put things before me and self before service, you are useless to me: you haven’t done anything for me lately, you haven’t spread the gospel, you don’t love, you don’t give, you don’t work, you don’t serve, you are useless to me and so since I don’t digest useless things well - I will spit you out of my mouth.
In this disgusting scene we see that Jesus is willing to spit us out of his mouth based on us being useless to him. There is probably some who say God does not spit people out, God loves all. In a word being useless is in direct relationship to our life, our existence. If Christ disposes us out of his mouth - life, as we know it seems to die, John 15 says, apart from me (Jesus) – you can do nothing. Revelation 3:19-20 shares with us the good news and the good news is - Christ never stops at death, he always goes to life. Jesus is always looking to give somebody a chance to make a life choice. I remember one day at a well, there was a woman who was wrestling with some issues and Jesus asked her do you want a drink of living water, so you’ll never thirst again? They tell me, there was a man who had been lame for 38 years, and one day Jesus stopped by. Jesus asked him the question, Do you want to get well! I am so glad that Jesus gives us life choices. And this evening we are faced with some life choices. This evening we are faced with two roads, two paths, which one will you take? Jesus wants to bring us from a life of uselessness to one of usefulness, whether it’s hot or cold, Jesus wants us to serve some use to the kingdom.
Although, Laodecians were useless, Jesus has a plan; Jesus suggests that they take the road to usefulness. He says I stand at the door and knock, brothers and sisters - I am so glad that Jesus never condemns without first giving us a chance to convert. That’s why opportunity exists for repentance or a change in the road we travel on. Maybe this morning, you are standing at the crossroads, you are saved but you offer no service. You have a choice. Maybe you’ve never accepted the fact that God loves you and wants to be with you forever and wants to save you, well today you have a choice, you can accept Christ as Savior and be eternally connected to God. Maybe you’ve started out serving but you have a nice cash flow now, and you have some possessions, and there are enough preachers and teachers already in the church, and you decide to malinger. You have a choice. Jesus welcomes change - change from uselessness to usefulness. You have a road to choose, and you have a life choice to make. I close with the end stanzas of Robert’s Frost poem the Road less Traveled, he says,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh, somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I _
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.