"Come in! Come in! Sit down and let me tell you a story. A story? Actually, it's based on a true account. You can read it in the Bible and decide for yourself what really happened and where imagination filled in the gaps.
"Many years ago there was a church which employed firefighters. Yes, you heard me right, firefighters. Oh, it didn't start out that way- they were volunteers at first but their work became more and more vital to acceptable church life until they were finally added to the payroll. They were not the kind of firefighters who put out flames in houses and saved lives; they fought a different type of fire. Let me tell you about them.
"Dorothy Damper's task was to 'settle down' anyone who became enthused. She had once been an enthusiastic follower of Jesus herself, but had grown tired. Now to see such passion in fellow church members brought guilt. Rather than change her heart, it was easier to discourage fervor in others.
"Similarly, Anita Apathetic's role was to squelch the zeal of the young people. 'Just proclaim the fact you're a Christian, you don't need to actually allow Christ to transform your life.'
"Sam Selffocus had one major duty to perform. His role was to keep the idea of outreach under control. 'It's fine to take a meal or two to the homeless shelter, but meet them in the streets? Much too dangerous. Besides, isn't that taking things a little far? I promised to follow Jesus but...'
"Nelson Neednothing and Constance Conceit worked together on the self-sufficient committee, continuously reminding everyone that they are rich, prosperous, and need nothing. (Revelation 3:17)
"Donald Doitanotherday didn't exactly discourage good works. He was fine with everyone talking about doing good for the sake of Christ, as long as no one ever actually did anything. The perfect way to orchestrate this was to suggest extensive planning but find ways to sabotage the ones that actually attempted to carry out ideas.
"Callie Competition and Betty Bicker's days were spent feeding small feuds. They attempted to keep everyone preoccupied by petty differences and therefore inhibit any advancement made toward attaining higher spiritual ground. Such progress in others would make Callie and Betty feel pressured to alter their lives to become more Christ-like.
"While this was happening on earth, in heaven the angel of this church, the church at Laodicea, brought a glass of water to the throne of Christ. He took a sip, gagged, and retched repeatedly. 'This is the life and works of your congregation? If it was cold, I could endure it but this lukewarm water is dreadful, nearly poisonous from stagnation. I expected it to be hot. How is it that my people are not on fire for me?'
"Trembling with shock, the angel fell at the feet of Jesus and cried, 'Oh Lord, what can be done to rekindle the flame in their hearts?'
"Christ answered in compassion, 'Counsel them to buy of me gold tried in fire (come to me for the refinement of their souls) that they may be spiritually rich. Instruct them to purchase white raiment (robes of purity cleansed by the blood of Christ) for clothing to cover their shame. Anoint their eyes with eye salve (the teaching of unadulterated truth) so they may see. Remind them I rebuke and chasten those who I love. Teach them to respond to my love by swiftly, fervently repenting of their sins.' (Rev. 3:18-19 KJV, author's paraphrase)
"The angel of the church at Laodicea brought the message back to his people with this warning - Jesus was standing at the door of their hearts, knocking. It seems in their attempt to keep life calm and under control; the people had one by one shut Jesus out of their lives and simultaneously out of their church.
"Can you imagine - a church who evicted Christ?"
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