"The Lukewarm Church" Series
Contributed by Andy Grossman on Oct 6, 2009 (message contributor)
Summary: Compares the modern church to the church in Laodicea.
The Church that made God sick -The Church of Laodicea
October 12, 2009
"To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ’I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." Revelation 3:14-22
Let’s take a look at our map at see where the church of Laodicea is.
This letter to Laodicea is commonly known as the most harsh and critical of the seven letters Christ sent to His churches in Asia Minor. We know this is a letter addressed, not only to the church in Laodicea, but to all Christ’s churches - over the entire world. It, then, is addressed to Mount Shasta, too. That can make us a little apprehensive about what we might hear this morning. Surely we in Mount Shasta can expect some pretty serious words from the Head of the Church. But before we listen to the message of this letter, notice what Jesus said to Laodicea in verse 19: "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten." It’s because Christ loved His church in Laodicea that He spoke to her the sharp words He did. And it’s because Christ loves His church here in the mountains of Siskiyou County that He has included this letter in Scripture for our instruction and edification. So let’s listen with a positive and humble frame of mind to these words spoken in love.
Let’s look, first, at verse 14 together: “To the Angel of the church…” This is pretty important. In all seven churches it was the “Angel of the church” to whom the letter was written. The word angel comes from the Greek word ‘angelos’. ‘Angelos’ simply translated means “messenger.” It could mean a heavenly messenger such as those who announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds on the hillside, or it could mean an earthly messenger, the one whom God has called to take His message to His people.
Most theologians believe that in this case the Bible refers to the earthly messenger – the pastor of the church. I agree. God did not order St. John to write this letter to a celestial being. One translation reads, “To the messenger of the church in Laodicea.” That’s the pastor. The living Bible paraphrases this nicely… “Write this letter to the leader of the church in Laodicea…”
The point is this: God has created a special relationship between Jesus Christ and the pastor of the church. Jesus speaks through the pastor in order to reach the body of believers known as the local church. I don’t know why God decided to do things this way. I don’t know why He organized His body this way. I do know that I have been called by God to be a pastor – and I have faithfully performed my duties for 34 years this month. I was called to become a preacher in 1971, studied at Nazarene bible College for 3 years, and began to pastor in El Sobrante, California the first Sunday of October, 1975. There has never been a day since then that I haven’t been a pastor. It wasn’t something I wanted. It was not something I aspired to. God called – and I responded. And I’ve tried to do my very best for Him. The Bible says,
“Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” James 3:1
I remember telling the Lord. “I don’t want to be judged more strictly. I want leniency and grace!” But I realize that one day I will have to stand before God and give an account of my work. I will be judged more strictly than others. I try to do everything with that in perspective. That’s why I pray and seek God’s will for each message. That’s why I study – “to show myself approved”. It’s why I went on beyond Bible College to get a Master’s in Christian Education. I want to do the best job I can, not only for Jesus, but for you as well. May God help us!