Reaching Out

Welcome to Laodicea

It is the year 56 AD, and we just left our home in Antioch, headed for a weekend in Laodicea, known for its beautiful setting on the Lycus River, mild climate, and prosperous economy. As we approached the city, we saw a large sign that says: “Welcome to Laodicea – City of Comfort and Prosperity – come for a visit, stay for a lifetime.”

We love coming to Laodicea, also called “The City of Zeus”, because of its many attractions – beautiful monuments, temples to many gods, theaters, and baths. Founded in 261 BC, Laodicea is located on a strategic trade route, is the center of thriving trade in black wool, and is known for its embrace of the arts, science, and literature.

On Saturday evening, after dinner at an open-air restaurant on the main plaza, we took in a theatrical performance in the magnificent stadium. Although it was thoroughly pagan and often risqué, the performance was dramatic, and we enjoyed ourselves immensely, as did the other theater goers.

On Sunday, we went to the local Church of Laodicea for worship service. Although the building was beautiful and well adorned, we couldn’t help seeing the many beggars and homeless people nearby, who seemed to be in great distress and need. We even recognized some of the churchgoers from the theatrical performance the night before, including the pastor.

We were impressed with the beautiful historic church, how well dressed the members were, and the melodic sound of music coming from the choir. We concluded that they must have God’s favor, to have such opulence and splendor in their church and church service. The message was comforting, how God loves us all and wants us to be successful and happy, all to His glory of course.

They invited us to stay for their monthly luncheon after the service, and we thoroughly enjoyed the delicious food and fine fellowship. The luncheon was just about over, when one of the church leaders came in and announced that he had just received a letter from the apostle John on the Isle of Patmos, just 140 miles to the east. We all knew that John was close to Jesus and was even called “the apostle whom Jesus loved”, so we were excited, looking forward to a message of encouragement and love.

The church leader stood up and quieted everyone down to read this message from Jesus Christ to the church of Laodicea, through the apostle John (Revelation 3:15-19). He read in a somber but loud voice:
“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, BECAUSE YOU ARE LUKEWARM, and neither cold nor hot, I WILL VOMIT YOU OUT OF MY MOUTH. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’— and DO NOT KNOW THAT YOU ARE WRETCHED, MISERABLE, POOR, BLIND, AND NAKED… As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore BE ZEALOUS AND REPENT!”

There was complete silence in the room for a few minutes as the gravity of the message given from Jesus’ most beloved disciple started to sink in. Although some murmuring was heard, at the same time we could hear soft weeping as other members’ hearts were broken by this convicting word from the Lord. Soon the weeping grew louder and “Lord forgive me” was exclaimed by many in the room. We too were convicted of our fleshly desires and worldliness, and cried out to the Lord for mercy. We realized that we witnessed a spiritual breakthrough in the Church of Laodicea and that it would never be the same.

The application of this story and this Word from the Lord is obvious and direct. If Jesus Christ was to speak to your church about your spiritual condition today, what would He say? Would He commend you for our spiritual purity and good works to all in spiritual and physical need? Or would He chastise you for the ways in which you have departed from Him and His righteousness, embraced the traditions of men, and succumbed to the temptations of the world, the lure of the flesh, and the lies of the devil?

Let us examine our hearts, repent of all sins to be spiritually clean, and draw close to the Lord for comfort, guidance, and the fire of the Holy Spirit. And let us become bold witnesses to all He brings across our path, for time is short, eternity is a very long time, and we are not guaranteed tomorrow.

To God be the glory