Today’s Reading: Revelation 3
Some time ago, Cindy and I were doing marital counseling for a couple who were struggling in their marriage. I asked a question I always ask in those types of counseling appointments. It is one of reality and judgment, so I can see how clear they are in their thinking. I asked the wife first, “Is there anything you can do to help the marriage? What do you need to stop doing and what do you need to get better in?”
“I can’t think of anything,” she said. She was basically saying, It’s him, not me. She misjudged herself really badly.
Today’s chapter looks at a church that was in the same boat as this deceived wife. The church of Laodicea was miles apart between their opinion of themselves and the reality of their situation. This is what Jesus tells them:
“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” (Revelation 3:14-17)
Paul gave the church at Rome a warning in Romans 12:3. Listen to these words because Laodicea didn’t: “Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us” (Romans 12:3, NLT). The Message says, “Don’t misinterpret yourselves.”
Now here is the Laodicean church who proudly said, We are rich, wealthy, and need nothing. That’s their judgment of themselves. But the only opinion that counts is how God sees us. And in verse 17, we have both reality and opinion. Listen to Jesus’ reality: “You do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.”
Wow, can that be any different? Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard couldn’t have said it more clearly: “It is so much easier to become a Christian when you aren’t one than to become one when you assume you already are.” Nothing is more dangerous than a deceived Christian, especially when the Spirit of truth resides in us.
How does my opinion of me match what Jesus assesses me to be? Am I Laodicea far off? Do I believe I’m rich when Jesus says I’m poor? Do I believe I don’t need anything when Jesus says I am blind and naked?
Here is a great prayer for us to pray every day from David in Psalm 139:23 (MSG):
Investigate my life, O God,
find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
get a clear picture of what I’m about;
See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong—
then guide me on the road to eternal life.
I have learned that a number of factors can put me in the Laodicea category of misjudging myself:
- When I am not reading the Bible. James 1:23 says the Bible is a mirror. When I read it, I can see the stuff out of place.
- When I am not praying. Prayer is where God talks and the Spirit convicts.
- When I am attending church but not being pastored. I have no one speaking to the areas that need to be tweaked and examined. I have surrounded myself with cheerleaders but no truth-tellers.
The last thing God says to this church is profound. And I have read it wrong for years. Listen to Jesus: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20).
For decades I used to preach on the streets of the inner cities of America, telling people that Jesus stands at the door of our hearts and is knocking today. We just need to let Him in. And I used to use Revelation 3:20 for the sinners. But Revelation 3:20 is not for the sinners. It’s for the Christians who have really poor judgment. Jesus is knocking on the door of His own church.
But what is Jesus doing on the other side of the door? And how was Laodicea having church without Jesus in the building? That is sobering to consider. And it tells me that it still can happen and is happening. When Jesus is not on the inside, then I become the judge of me. And that is not good.
If you hear Jesus knocking, drop everything and answer the door, please.