To the luke-warm church in Laodicea, Jesus had some very hard words. (Rev 3:14-22). This is the Canadian church(and I know it is the same case in many nations). Our state is pitiful. We are well developed in ministries, programs, buildings, committees and administration…yet mostly dead as a door nail. Sprinkled throughout many congregations are a few earnest Spirit-filled individuals who weep and groan over their own state and the sin of the church. They are like modern day Jeremiahs who lament the multitudes who draw close got God with their lips but who’s hearts are far from Him.(Is 29:13)
In the words of that great old Irish preacher Iain Paisley,”The church of Jesus Christ is largely sleeping, like a great bedroom and you have all the Christians in bed and they’re all sleeping … and they’re saying ‘Please, don’t wake me up! I want to sleep on!'”
Oh how rich we are! Look at our new building, our Sunday attendance, our budget! “Wretched!” Jesus says. “Poor naked and blind!” We are shamefully exposed before the world and we don’t even see it! The world sees no difference and no power. The lost look and scoff at the powerless “form of godliness.” Almost everyone I talk to from various churches agree that the Laodicean church of Revelation 3 is a very fair assessment of the current church. If you don’t see it…well, God help you to see it.
Pointing out the problem is the easy part.
Facing the problem and rectifying it is the challenge
Consider this oft quoted solution to the problem from the same passage:
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”- Rev 3:20
This is not a call for the lost to come to Christ. This is a call to the naked, poor and blind church! This is Jesus standing outside the very doors of the church. Jesus locked out of the church….imagine that! And yet that is our reality right now.
Is Jesus in your church? I didn’t ask if your church teaches about Jesus or if it
has a sound doctrine. I didn’t even ask if you imitate Jesus’ example. I didn’t ask if He is highly esteemed. I asked is Jesus is in your church? When you gather together, do the believers gather, as it were , around the banqueting table with Christ to fellowship with Him and hear His word not simply the preachers word. Is the presence of the pastor more real than the presence of Christ? Is there a holy awe, patient anticipation, confession of sin and testimonies? Is the power of God evidenced clearly?
Lets take it a step farther, because the Church of Christ is not a building or any single assembly…it is all true believers. Is Christ dwelling in you? Are you “eating with him and he with you.” Do you lean your head on Christ’s chest as John did at the last supper to hear the secrets of His heart whispered to yours? Does your heart suffer from hunger pangs on busy days? When the obligations of life mean you haven’t had quality time with him what do you do? Do you steal away with Jesus? I know people who take “bathroom breaks” on busy days, lock the door behind them and raise their hands to God in prayer. Do you think about Him at night? What have you gladly thrown out of your life for His sake? I’m not just talking about getting rid of sin..I mean, what hobbies have you left by the wayside so you could spend more time with Christ? Does the world seem like a fading garment to you or are you fascinated by it? What respect from others have you lost for Christ’s sake?
And what about hearing Him? Do you hear Him? Can you tell the difference between the voice of the Spirit and your own thoughts? Have you learned to discern the Shepherds voice? What have you obeyed God by faith on lately? When you sin does your heart burn until you confess it? If others confront your sin, are you glad for the” faithful wounds of a friend” or do you react angrily? Do you receive hardship as discipline from God? Do you recognize the good hand of God favouring you by forming new things in you through tragedy and suffering?
Christ can do more with the broken cry of a dying country church. At least it sees its brokeness! But a “successful” mega church in the city that is bustling with activity? A church like this is most often like a beautiful ship with a full complement of crew running madly
about securing rigging, hoisting the sails, pulling anchor, battening down the hatches, and whatever else. Yet the wind is not there, the Spirit of
Christ is not moving upon them. Foolishness! We say we are rich, but we are wretched, poor naked and blind.
Not many pastors like to hear this stuff, because they think it reflects on them. Well, yeah it does to some extent. It forces an evaluation of all of us. Jesus stands as the great physician outside the church diagnosing a terrible cancer. What doctor worth his salt would withhold from his patient this news because it may offend or upset? It would be wrong if you pointed at your leaders as the sole reason for this. You are also responsible before God for this and what have you done? Where is Jesus?
So what to do? Open the door to Jesus. Understand though, the magnitude of the cost and count it! It will cost you everything. Money, respect, time, homes, retirement, vacations, hobbies, cherished little idols…everything. Jesus will not share his temple with any idol. Don’t offer some verbal or intellectual ascent.
Learn one word-OBEDIENCE. Allow Jesus to lay his finger on each thing as you fellowship with him. Whatever he points out, you must violently remove. Do you know why? Because if you refuse…”mealtime” is over. It is as if you say to Jesus, “well Jesus, thanks for coming over to eat with me tonight, but its time for you to go now” as you escort him to the door. Slam. Click. Lock. Then, you’re free to do what you like again. You can return to prostituting yourself with the world.(Read Hosea) Later on you will realize the awful cost of this on yourself, your spouse, kids and your church. The collateral damage is enormous. That type of compromise will permeate the church like fungus and your arrogant disobedience will sever intimacy as violently as an affair violates a marriage. The things of the world aren’t worth the cost of losing fellowship with God.
Let it be said of you at your funeral that you were intoxicated with Christ and you left in your wake a generation of true disciples of Jesus. That you had such a love life with Jesus that he could ask anything of you and you would do it! Let Him fill you with all the fullness and riches of his grace. Trade your form of godliness with the the garments of holiness, wisdom and humility. Be clothed with the Spirit of power from on high for Christ sake!
Start with one thing. Open the door unconditionally. Surrender. Sit down with Jesus at the banqueting table and be delighted and wooed into the divine romance that will consume the rest of your life.