Hosea 9-11 Revelation 3
“You say, ‘I am rich, and I have become wealthy and do not need anything.’ But you do not know that you are really miserable, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. I advise you to buy from me gold made pure in fire so you can be truly rich. Buy from me white clothes so you can be clothed and so you can cover your shameful nakedness. Buy from me medicine to put on your eyes so you can truly see.” (Revelation 3:17-18 NCV)
Oh, those crazy Laodiceans! They had it all from a worldly standpoint. They were wealthy, living in their gated communities behind closed doors, and protected from the world. They needed nothing. Yet Jesus told them that they needed everything from Him. He later talked about standing at the door and knocking – waiting for them to answer. That picture’s an interesting contrast to what He told the church at Philadelphia when He said that when He opens a door, no one can close it. The church in Laodicea, meanwhile, gathered their stuff and hid behind their doors either to avoid being persecuted or to wait for the second coming. Perhaps they once were on fire in their faith, but the accumulation of wealth had cooled them down so that they were now lukewarm. And that didn’t please Jesus.
There’s a tendency to become too protective of our things, once we begin to accumulate them, and less concerned about people. We begin to think that God blesses us because of how amazing we are, instead of how great He is. We forget that God blesses us so that we can bless others. As we read the letters to the churches, we can note that all those churches that received criticism from Jesus did so because they had veered from a commitment to God and to His people. Perhaps they made allowances to the culture to avoid persecution. Perhaps other things became more important than the command to share the gospel. Whatever the reason may have been in other churches, the church in Laodicea got so wealthy in worldly terms that they forgot their need for Jesus. Perhaps no one had ever taught them the words of Jesus when He said, “It is worthless to have the whole world if they lose their souls.” (Mark 8:36 NCV) They took their worldly wealth and hid behind closed doors to avoid the persecutors who might notice them if they shared the gospel and the poor and needy who might make them feel guilty about accumulating wealth while those knocking at the door were hungry and in need of shelter. They became so closed in that they wouldn’t even answer the door when someone knocked. The message to the church wasn’t easy for most to accept: they needed to open the door and be ready to go through the fires of persecution; they needed the spiritual clothes of Jesus to deal with life, and they needed heavenly medicine to open their eyes to the world around them. Those admonitions hit too close to home in America today.
Lord, it’s so easy to depend on our riches and stop depending on You. We don’t need to pray for our daily bread because we’ve got so much food in the house, we don’t even eat all the leftovers. We can avoid persecution by keeping our mouths shut. We can spend so much time with our friends and people who think like we do, that we don’t see the needs of people around us. Teach me, Lord, to depend on You for everything – especially when I don’t think I need to.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.