According to an Internet article, Laodicea was located in the Lycus River valley in modern-day Turkey and was an important center of commerce and culture during the Roman period.
One of its most significant structures was an enormous theater, which could seat up to 20,000 people. Laodicea also had a large stadium, public baths, and a network of underground aqueducts that brought fresh water from nearby hot springs.
As a center of trade, Laodicea was renowned for its wool and textiles, as well as its banking industry. The city’s wealth and prosperity allowed its citizens to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle, and they were known for their love of luxury and fashion.
A Lukewarm Church
The American church of the 21st century is situated in the wealthiest and most comfortable time in history.
Despite the immense blessing wealth affords, it can pose a danger to our faith. For example, we contend with the following and more.
— Materialism: We can become too focused on accumulating wealth and enjoying comfort, making our material possessions more important than our relationship with God.
— Self-sufficiency: Wealth and comfort can give us a sense of self-sufficiency that can lead us to believe we don’t need God. This can cause us to rely more on our abilities and resources, rather than seeking guidance and support from God.
— Distraction: Wealth and comfort can lead to a lack of focus on spiritual matters and a diminishing commitment to our walk with the Lord.
— Entitlement: Wealth and comfort can lead us to feel entitled to our blessings, rather than recognizing them as gifts from God.
Jesus wrote this to comparatively wealthy and comfortable people.
“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the origin of God’s creation:
“I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot.
So, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth (Revelation 3.14-16).
Laodicea was contrasted with two nearby cities. Hierapolis had hot mineral waters. Colossae had pure cold spring water. The church of Laodicea provided neither healing nor refreshment.
One-third of Jesus’ miracles involved physical healing. Jesus promised abundant life (John 10.10) to his followers.
When the church neither heals nor transmits abundant life, we fail in our ability to represent Jesus.
What is Needed
Laodicea was the wealthiest of the seven cities we read about in Revelation. Their medical college developed an eye salve that was exported throughout the Roman empire. Textiles and other trade from Laodicea enriched the city.
Jesus adopted familiar aspects of the city and applied them to the church.
For you say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.’ You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
Therefore I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich, and white robes to clothe yourself and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen, and salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see (Revelation 3.17-18).
In today’s world, we often prioritize material possessions and wealth over everything else. But what if there was something more valuable than all the riches in the world? Here are some thoughts on what we can do.
We should strive to seek out these spiritual treasures, even as we navigate the pressures of everyday life.
Let’s choose to pursue vibrant faith, live with integrity, and seek guidance from our Savior.
Let’s avoid actions and behaviors that compromise our values and seek out wisdom and enlightenment from the basics of our faith.
Willingly Accept Discipline
God disciplines his children to bring them to repentance.
“I reprove and discipline those whom I love. Be earnest, therefore, and repent” (Revelation 3.19).
Proverbs remind us of the connection between God’s discipline and his love for us.
My child, do not despise the Lord’s discipline
or be weary of his reproof,
For the Lord reproves the one he loves,
as a father the son in whom he delights. (Proverbs 3:11-12)
Elite athletes and scholars willingly subject their minds and bodies to rigorous discipline. Should followers of Jesus do anything less?
A Gracious Promise
The author I am reading for this study in Revelation wrote that the church had excommunicated Jesus from their congregation. Jesus humbly came to the church and requested entrance.
“Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and eat with you, and you with me” (Revelation 3.20).
Clearly, the author overstated the situation. The church didn’t enter into formal ex-communication procedures against Jesus. However, their self-sufficient attitude and neglect had the same effect.
The question for the church today is whether we have done the same thing.
We need to repent and turn again to our Lord, re-establishing our trust and commitment to him. Let’s invite him into our midst.
His promise is as magnificent as his gracious “knock” at our door.
“To the one who conquers I will give a place with me on my throne, just as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.
“Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches” (Revelation 3.21-22).
May we listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches and respond with repentance and faithfulness.
Rudy Ross and I conclude the study of the seven churches today on YouTube. We know we have only scratched the surface of these churches and recommend that you read and prayerfully meditate on this important message.