Summary: The lukewarm church of Laodicea.
Turn with me to Revelation 3
This morning we reach the last stop on our tour of the seven churches of Asia Minor. And with this last stop, we come across probably the most familiar. Many of us have probably heard several sermons on this passage in our lifetimes. If not, you’re probably familiar with Jesus’ words in verse 20, “Behold I stand at the door and knock…” You might even have a picture at home that’s based on that verse. You know, the one where Jesus is standing, knocking at the door with no doorknob on the outside? The point is, this is a very familiar passage. And the danger in preaching a familiar passage is in wanting to find something new or novel in it. The popular 19th century commentator Albert Barnes once wrote, “A pastor need not always aim at originality; he renders an essential service to mankind when he reminds them of what they know but are prone to forget.” So, taking all that into consideration, I’m going to avoid the temptation to try to be new and novel this morning. This morning we’re going to look at the lukewarm church of Laodicea to remind us of what we know, but are prone to forget.
As John’s messenger moved about the churches of Asia Minor, Laodicea was his last stop. It was about 40 miles from his last stop in Philadelphia where he sat in the church there as their letter was read to them. I’m sure the service there was one of hope and encouragement as the letter was read. Remember from last week that their letter was only one of two that contained no scolding. It was all for their encouragement. What a different scene it must have been when the messenger sat in the Laodicean church. Because their letter was not one of encouragement. It was not one of commendation. As a matter of fact, it was the only letter of the seven that had absolutely no commendation in it. We like to talk about saving the best for last. Jesus saved the worst for last. The worst? How could they be the worst? We’ve already seen a church that was filled with doctrinal compromise. How could it be worse than that? We’ve already seen another church that was filled with sexual immorality. How could it be worse than that? How could it be worse that a church that was almost totally spiritually dead, like we saw a couple of weeks ago? What gross immorality and sin could be worse than those things? What was possibly going on in Laodicea that was worse than those headline grabbing sins of the other churches? It was their complacency. It was their comfort. It was their self-sufficiency. We can look around ourselves this morning and thank God that we are not torn apart by some of the headline grabbing sins that many churches are dealing with. By God’s grace, we’re not having to deal with immorality in the pulpit and deacon body. We’re not having to deal with financial impropriety. We’re not having to deal with a spiritually dead church. God has blessed us in protecting us from those things. But the question is, are we free from the worst church sin? Are we free from the creeping cancer of comfort and complacency that plagued the church of Laodicea?