Can I have your attention please? The sooner we get started, the sooner we’ll be finished. Order please. That’s better.
Thank you for attending today’s business meeting. You’ve all heard the news, so we’ll get straight to the point.
Our Lord wants to “come in”.
It’s an amazing letter, inserted in a fascinating document. It will be circulated in due course. The part pertaining to us contains an ultimatum of sorts. Hence this special meeting. We, the church of Laodicea, need to respond.
The author identifies Himself as “the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation”*. He is, of course, the Christ from whom we get our name. It is nice that He wants to “come in”, but His terms are somewhat unclear.
He calls us “lukewarm”. He has a point. As you know, our water is channeled from Hieropolis just north-west of here. That city is famous for its hot springs, but when the water reaches our city, it is indeed lukewarm. At least it isn’t the freezing cold pure water for which Colossae, our eastern neighbour, is famous. Imagine washing in that! Nevertheless, these geographical facts do not justify the next statement. Apparently, our Lord hates the fact that we are lukewarm and is about to spew us out of his mouth*. How crude. Water is one thing, but to apply that term to such cultured people as ourselves is another.
Let us not forget our identity. We are Laodiceans. We are rich. As the centre of banking for this whole province, the quantity of pure gold in the community is significant. Our textile industry is world famous, and particularly this magnificent black Laodicean wool. Nowhere this side of the orient can finer fabrics be found. Not only are we rich and beautifully clothed, but our people are well educated. We have the best medical schools in the province, and the Laodicean eye salve is sold in every corner of the empire. This is Laodicea, and we are the church of Laodicea – a cultured, rich, well-dressed group of men and women who can hold our heads high.
Yet listen to how the letter describes us. “You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked…”* The Lord advises us to buy gold from him, to receive the white garments He offers and to buy His eye salves so that we can see again. Does He not understand our city? He could not be more wrong.
The letter does somewhat improve. We are told that we’re loved. That, says our Lord, is why He rebukes us, disciplines us and calls us to repent. But repent of what?
Now we get to the crux of the matter. Listen to His words. “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”*. That is the question, church. Do we invite Him to enter?
Our Lord equates ‘opening the door’ with ‘overcoming’. He says that if we overcome, we’ll one day sit with Him on His throne in glory. However, it is not clear what we need to overcome. Our lives are comfortable. We don’t want to go overboard with religion – that only invites trouble. Yet we are certainly Christians. If there were great persecution, like some of the other churches face, we might need to overcome. But there isn’t.
He suggests that we make a decision. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”*. Would we miss our Master’s message? Is He implying that we are deaf as well as apparently blind?
It is up to us, the church members, to determine our course of action. May I make two closing comments before we vote? If we invite Him in, we admit that despite all our wealth and wisdom, we are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. On the other hand, the One who knocks is our Lord Jesus Christ, so consider carefully your response.
All those in favour of inviting Him in, please raise your hands. Noted.
All those against, please raise your hands. Noted.
Thank you. The church secretary will send a reply. The text will read as follows.
Attention: the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Ruler of God’s Creation.
The church at Laodicea
*Bible quotations from Revelation 3:14-22, NIV
‘The meeting’ is fiction. The rest is true.
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