America is witnessing a “capitalistic Christianity.” The goal is no longer spiritual growth, but expansion in numbers, property, finances. Jesus’ judgment of the Laodicean church applies to many churches today: “You don’t realize what has happened to you. Your blindness has caused you to grow lukewarm and you don’t even see it. You still think you’re hot for Me” (see Revelation 3:15-17)
In Ephesus, the church’s sin was a loss of intimacy with Jesus. In Thyatira, it was a loss of discernment, and flirtation with spiritual fornication. Now, in Laodicea, we see the worst sin of all: a loss of all need for Christ.
It all ends up in nakedness. Jesus charged the Laodiceans with their naked condition: “The shame of thy nakedness [does] not appear” (3:18). The Greek word for naked here means “stripped of resources.” You see, God reserves His resources for those who are reliant upon Him, who depend on Him in their need. What are His resources? They’re true spiritual riches: His strength, His miracle-working power, His divine guidance, His manifest presence.
Picture a congregation that sits comfortably through a one-hour worship service. These Christians hear a short sermon on how to cope with life’s stresses, then they’re quickly out the door. They don’t sense any need to be broken or contrite before Jesus. They don’t feel the need to be stirred or convicted by a piercing message. There’s no cry of, “Lord, melt me, break me. You alone can fulfill my hunger.”
Where is the zeal they had before? These believers were once eager to get to church, to pore over God’s Word, to lay their hearts bare before the Spirit’s searchlight. But now they think they’ve outgrown all that. So they’ve restricted their Christianity to Sunday mornings—to a religion of lukewarmness.
Jesus so loved this Laodicean pastor and his congregation that He told them He would create a need in them for his resources: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (3:19). His loving hand was coming to chasten them and He would do it by creating a need in them to call on His power and help.
Christ is speaking to us with the same words today. He’s telling us, just as He told the Laodiceans: “This is all about supping with Me. It’s about answering the door when I knock. And I’m calling out to you now to come and commune. I have everything you need. Your fellowship with Me gives you what you need to continue in ministry. It all has to come from our time together.”
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon