Summary: John, under the inspiration of God, wrote to the Church of the Laodiceans in Revelation 3:14-19:
THE AFFLUENZA AFFLICTION
John, under the inspiration of God, wrote to the Church of the Laodiceans in Revelation 3:14-19:
“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”
God’s warning to the church of the Laodiceans where he charges them with, “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:” reminds me of the current trial case of a Texas teenager who in December 2013, State District Judge Jean Boyd sentenced Ethan Couch to 10 years' probation for driving under the influence and killing four pedestrians after his attorneys successfully argued that the teen suffered from affluenza and needed rehabilitation, and not prison.
The lawyers had argued that Couch was unable to understand the consequences of his actions because of his financial privilege. The defendant had been witnessed on surveillance video stealing beer from a store, driving with seven passengers in a Ford F-350 stolen from his father, and speeding (70 miles per hour in a 40 miles per hour zone). Couch was also driving while under the influence of alcohol (with a blood alcohol content of 0.24%, three times the legal limit for an adult in Texas) and the tranquilizer Valium.
Laodicea was noted throughout the Roman province of Asia for its wealth, its commercial life, and its medical practice. Laodicea was part of a tri-city area, closely associated with the cities of Colossae and Hierapolis. As the banking center of Asia, it was the most prosperous of the seven cities. The city was also noted for its medical practice, especially for its eye and ear salve. Laodicea was thus a kind of Bank of America, Macy's Department Store and Mayo Clinic all rolled into one which explains some of the references found in the letter to the church of the Laodiceans.
There were two major problems in the church of the Laodiceans: First, there was something wrong with their commitment. They were neither cold nor hot. They were suffering from "the leukemia of non-commitment." And, also, there was something wrong with their self-image, as they thought they were rich—suffering from the affliction of affluenza. Like the rich young ruler they were deceived about their actual spiritual condition. Believing they were to be envied, they were in fact to be pitied.
The image of Jesus Christ standing outside and knocking implies that the Laodiceans had locked Him out of their church (one reason why this epistle is addressed “to the church OF the Laodiceans)! The door on which Christ is knocking is not the door to a single human heart, but to the Laodicean church. This was, indeed, one sick church—suffering from affluenza. They “said” they were rich but in reality they were miserable, poor and naked. It has the grim distinction of being the only one of the seven churches for whom Christ has no positive word of commendation. Some churches make the Lord weep, others make Him angry; the Laodicean church made Him sick.
“Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.”
In 1347, the Black Plague was raging through Europe and thousands of people died. Many people saw it as judgment of God. And so, hoping to appease God’s wrath, the citizens of Lubeck, Germany surrounded the churches and monasteries of their city and offered them enormous amounts of money and riches.
The monks and priests inside one of these monasteries fearful of contamination, barred their gates and would not allow the citizens to enter. The persistent crowds threw valuables, coins, gold, and jewels over the walls… and the frightened monks threw all of it back.