Behold Your God — Week Twelve, Day Four

17 Aug

The letter to the church in Laodicea in the book of Revelation is one of the more famous passages in the Bible . . .

14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.

15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

This passage is known by its focus on being lukewarm and by the invitation of verse 20 to open the door to Jesus. The lukewarm aspect is interesting. It seems to me from a reading of verses 17 and 18 that what leads to lukewarmness is self-sufficiency. There is some allegiance to Jesus (hot) but also a lot of allegiance to self (cold). Thus a lukewarm person is one who is not yielding daily to the Lordship of Christ but is trying to make it through life by their own wits. They are self-deceived, thinking they have all they need but being blind to their true spiritual condition. The solution is found in buying true riches from Jesus. This refined gold (the path is suffering), these white garments, this salve for the eyes, all these things are pointing to a life with Jesus that is rich and joyous and holy and true. If we will pass through the refiners fire day by day we will find a quality of life with God that we can find nowhere else. We will be free from the deadly grip of self-deception and we will enjoy close fellowship with our Maker and Savior.

The pathway to this life is repentance. That is why many people, even church people, never experience the fullness of God. They won’t repent. They won’t move their allegiance from self-dependence to dependence on God. The way to life runs counter to our expectations, while the way to death is broad and welcoming.

It will take fresh eyes to see these things for many of us. And when the voices of culture are so strong in their denunciations of such an approach it will be tempting to just go with the flow. But nothing could be more damaging to us than to gain the whole world and forfeit our souls.

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