Summary: Our culture has an inordinate pursuit of comfort and leisure; but there is a Biblical priority and perspective that must be applied.




Sermon Objective: Our culture has an inordinate pursuit of comfort and leisure; but there is a Biblical priority and perspective that must be applied.

Supporting Scripture: 1 Timothy 4:10; James 4:17


With this sermon we conclude our series called “American Idols: Looking at Ourselves and Our Loyalties Through the Eyes of Jesus.”

There are two categories of idols:

{1} an image or other material object representing a deity to which religious worship is addressed.

{2} any person or thing regarded with blind admiration, adoration, or devotion.

Our concern is with the latter. There are a myriad of “things” which could be classified as an idol … they are limited only by the passions of the individual in question. But there are certain dispositions or demeanors that our culture serves and pursues as an end in themselves … they have become idolatrous.

What we discover in “The Revelation” is that they are not just limited to our culture but that others have also pursued these with blind devotion. They include:

• Superiority (pride) – The Church in Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7) • Laissez Faire – The Church in Pergamum (Revelation 2:12-17) • Tolerance – The Church in Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29) • Comfort – The Church in Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6) • Stoicism – The Church in Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13) • Leisure – The Church in Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22)

Today we will look at the church in Laodicea and Leisure. It is found in Rev. 3:14-22.


It was a important center for manufacturing clothing. It produced woolen products. The people of the city were known to be some of the best dressed in all of Asia-Minor.

They had a world-renown medical center. Its medical school employed famous doctors (we know this from circulating coins) and they produced an eye salve from Phrygian powder that was in great demand across the empire.

Its market was second to none. People would come from all over to buy, sell, and just say they had been there. It reminds me of the mystique that surrounds Pike’s Market in Seattle. It is billed as one of the tourist stops that “you just must see.”

Its banking system was second to none. In fact, the city’s banking assets were so noteworthy that Cicero cashed huge bank drafts there. Only Rome was a more successful financial center.

It was one of the wealthiest cities in the world. So much so that after a great earthquake in A.D. 60, which destroyed it, the people refused imperial help in rebuilding the city and chose, rather, to do it with their own money.


French sociologist Jacques Ellul argues that it is the goal of every urban civilization to ultimately make God irrelevant and unnecessary. “The whole goal of the ‘city man.’” Writes Ellul, “is to be able to say, ‘we did it ourselves, we did it our way, we made it on our own, we have need of nothing.’”

And just as the city of Laodicea did not need “god-Caesar”, so the church therein did not need God … Jesus Christ … “The Amen” … the one who was the ultimate reality and ultimate ruler.

There is an indisputable link between prosperity and the spiritual failing of the Laodicean church. It produced spiritual complacency and spiritual pride. They were not able to distinguish between material and spiritual prosperity. The church thought her outward prosperity was the measure of her spiritual prosperity.

In 1786 John Wesley wrote: “I fear, wherever riches have increased, the essence of religion has decreased in the same proportion. Therefore, I do not see how it is possible, in the nature of things, for any revival of religion to continue long. For religion must necessary produce both industry and frugality, and these cannot but produce riches. But as riches increase, so will pride, anger, and love of the world in all its branches.”

Unfortunately this spirit of self-sufficiency separated Laodicea from the life-giving source of its savior. Ironically, to the church at Smyrna Jesus said, "I know … your poverty—yet you are rich!" (2:9) but to this church he says, “You say, 'I am rich’ … but you do not realize that you are … poor” (3:17).

The church of Laodicea was most likely founded on Paul’s third missionary journey while he spent time at Ephesus (Acts 19:10). It wasn’t that old – a few decades maybe. It was planted by Epaphras (Col. 4:12), met in the home of Nymphus (Col.4:16) and its bishop was Archippus (Col.4:17). There is no evidence that Paul ever visited the church, although he wrote them a letter that is now lost (Col.4:16).

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