The lukewarm church in Laodicea

By Cathleen Cathcart Contributing Columnist

Revelation 3:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

The church in Laodicea was located in the wealthiest city of all the churches. This city was known for its banking industry, medical school, and the manufacture of wool. While it is a blessing to have ones needs taken care of (as many other Christians had to live in poverty) this would negatively affect their gratitude and daily living concerning the gospel of Christ. They were self sufficient and had become indifferent which led to idleness. Prosperity can be dangerous if we are not mindful of our dependency of Christ. Salvation comes through faith, and faith is what it takes to please God. (Hebrews 11:6)

Wealth and good fortune are often mistaken as a sign of God’s spiritual blessing. While He certainly can, and does, bless people, we must realize that the less fortunate are not neglected by God, and He expects those who are able to give to those in need. We can get a false sense of confidence from wealth which can lead to complacency if we are not careful. The Laodicean church had lost their value due to prosperity and had become distasteful to God by their lack of desire to serve Him.

We must be aware of how temporary worldly gain can be. Christ instructs this church to get their riches and garments from Him rather than the city they lived in. His wealth is heavenly treasure and life that will never pass away, and His white raiment is a garment of righteousness. Though Laodicea was home to a medical school which produced eye salve, Christ points out they still had eye problems because they could not see the truth. Possessions and achievements are of no value when compared to an everlasting future in Christ’s kingdom.

The most valuable thing we can possess is a right relationship with God. I encourage you today to base your value on the love of Christ and not what you posses in this world. Christ urged each of these churches to listen and heed what He is saying. Several churches were offered warnings because God wanted them to repent and turn back to Him, not because He was out to administer punishment. Today, He still urges His church to love, honor, and serve Him faithfully. In what ways are you serving? Do you depend on Him for health and strength, or do you rely on your own knowledge?

I pray, “Father, forgive my idleness. Show me the areas in which I must do better. Renew my burden for the lost, help me express more love and kindness to those around me, and restore a spirit of thanksgiving in me. In Jesus name I ask, amen.”

Rev. Cathleen N. Cathcart is pastor of New Life Worship Center in Spartanburg.