“Searching the Seven Churches”
The Lukewarm Church – (Revelation Chapter 3 Verses 14-22)
This is a post-Reformation church with the advent of the renaissance, the awakening of the mind. The Reformation brought with it a wonderful freedom of thought. The whole of Europe was in chains, in darkness prior to this under the tyranny of the old Roman medieval ecclesiastical authority. The people just were not permitted to think for themselves. But along came the Reformation and this glorious freedom. The liberty for men and women to come to and study the word God for themselves. But freedom always brings with it responsibility. Then came the renaissance of mind, a freedom to rebel against authority both human and divine. Free from the shackles of God’s law, “let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us” (Psalm 2:3). Of course, such freedom is no freedom at all, but leads back into bondage, to Satan. When biblical theology goes out one door false religion comes in through the other door along with psychological and occult experience. It is only the ignorance that abounds in the modern church that permits the free-for-all in terms of so-called Christian worship today. The dramatic and musical extravaganzas, the casting aside of God’s word. But if they only knew it, they are on a pathway back to the tyranny of the old medieval ecclesiastical authority. The call to repent here in Laodicea is a call to a renewed reformation of worship and doctrine, back to the reformed doctrine of the gospel. In Laodicea, they see no need for this, or anything else (v17). They are rich, or they think they are. Is it an issue of prosperity? That surely is an enemy of spirituality, it eats at the very vitals of the church’s soul. But look at Christ’s description of this so, so, self-satisfied people, “you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked” (v17). This surely is the spirit of the age. The distinction, the antithesis has been erased from between them and the world. They still believe the right things but it has no effect on their lives.
They still believe that people should be converted but there is no serious missionary endeavour. They don’t confront people with the claims of the gospel. They don’t implore sinners to be reconciled to God. You don’t speak like that in the church in Laodicea. In fact, you don’t speak about sin at all, it’s forbidden to do so. You think this is a stretch? The church I was in when I was first converted thirty-six years ago is in that very place, sin is not to be talked about. It’s gone. It’s all friendship evangelism but the kind of friendship that never gets around to actually telling people that they are lost, damned to a lost eternity without Christ. You don’t talk about heaven or hell. They just talk about people becoming one of them. You know how it goes, folk come for a few weeks and then they are told you’re one of us of now. But their hearts have never been changed, they’ve never been reborn of God’s Spirit. Beloved, the church has been talking about friendship evangelism for the last thirty years or more, but I do not see that is has produced anything but that, friends. Where tell me does Christ tell us to go into all the world and make friends? Disciples! Where are the disciples? All we have seen is a further, gradual diminishing of the church, in this land anyway. Prayer meetings are a thing of the distant past, they are way too proud and too busy for such. It’s not that they have suddenly turned around and said to Jesus we don’t want you here. Just bit by bit, more and more they have edged him out. Because they find him boring. We don’t want to sit here meeting after meeting just talking about Jesus, we’ve got more exciting things to think and talk about and do. O they still use his name but they’ve stolen his church. They are ashamed of him. “For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:26). Tell me what would your preference be? It’s a freezing cold day, your feet and your fingers are just about dropping off with the cold as you come through the door. Your beloved tells you he or she will get you a nice hot drink, warm the cockles of your heart. Or it’s an extremely hot summer’s day and you come in sweating. Your beloved says here’s a nice cold drink to cool you off. Beautiful. But someone on either of these imaginary scenarios gives you a lukewarm drink? It disgusts you! You want to spit it out your mouth. That’s how Jesus feels about the church in Laodicea.
(© James R Hamilton, written Summer, 2011)