What Laodicea Doesn’t Know Can Hurt Us

In Revelation, the church in Laodicea received a warning and correction from Jesus that had to do with how they saw themselves.

To the angel of the assembly in Laodicea write: “The Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of God’s creation, says these things: ‘I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing;’ and don’t know that you are the wretched one, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.'” (Rev. 3:14-17, all scripture references from WEB translation)

The things that the Laodiceans didn’t know about themselves were a threat to their spiritual position in Christ. He threatens to vomit them out of Him if they are not zealous to repent (Rev. 3:19). That’s pretty serious, and we can learn from His advice to them how to avoid similar mistakes.

Those who see the letters in Revelation as pictures of eras in the church tend to agree that we are currently living in the Laodicean era. And even if that’s not the case, those who “have an ear” are still instructed to “hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 3:22). If we, like the Laodiceans, are ignorant of about our true spiritual condition then we need to heed this warning to wake up to the truth and change how we’re living.

Wretched and Miserable

Jesus starts out by telling the people who think they’re okay that they are in fact “wretched and miserable.” It reminds me of what Paul said in one of his letters: “let him who thinks he stands be careful that he doesn’t fall” (1 Cor. 10:12). Each of the words translated “wretched” and “miserable” are only used one other place in the Greek New Testament.

What a wretched man I am! Who will deliver me out of the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ, our Lord! So then with the mind, I myself serve God’s law, but with the flesh, sin’s law. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who don’t walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. (Rom. 7:24-8:1)

Paul’s mindset was completely different than the Laodiceans. He knew he was in a wretched state and the only solution was to turn to Jesus for deliverance. This is reflected in his use of the word for miserable/pitiable as well. Read more

What Makes Us Remarkable

After healing a lame man in Acts 3, Peter and john are brought before the Jewish leaders to explain their actions. After hearing from Peter “that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth … this man stands here before you whole,” the leaders marveled at them.

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13)

When looking at Peter and John, the only exceptional thing the Jewish leaders noticed about them was that they had been with Jesus. Even the people working against Christ’s teachings could recognize that being in His presence had changed these fishermen who would otherwise be considered unremarkable.

Wisdom of the Poor Man

Not surprisingly, a similar thing happened to Jesus. He was not what people expected the Messiah to be, and some people rejected Him because He seemed so ordinary.

And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! 3 Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” So they were offended at Him. (Mark 6:2-3)

"What Makes Us Remarkable" by marissabaker.wordpress.comThese people missed out on knowing the son of God because they rejected the wisdom of the poor man (Ecc. 9:16). All too often, we fall into the trap of rejecting someone because of an unfavorable first impression based on a stereotype rather than actually knowing them. Rejecting someone because of their lack of education and credentials isn’t solely confined to intellectuals, but I’m afraid it’s a trap that educated people might be more likely to fall into than others.  I’m very much in favor of education, but I do agree with this quote by Dr. J. Budziszewski: “there are some forms of stupidity that one must be highly intelligent and educated to commit.”

Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught. And the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?” (John 7:14-15)

Instead of asking how they could know Jesus better, or listening when He explained that “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me,” the people accused Him of having a demon (John 7:16-20). Seeing this kind of rejection towards Jesus, it should not surprise us if people reject us as well. Christ warned His followers,

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” (John 15:18-20)

That’s Not Fair

Not only will we be considered ignorant and foolish by the world for our belief in God, but in addition to that we are not usually remarkable by worldly standards before our calling either.

But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,  that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God — and righteousness and sanctification and redemption — that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 27-31)

There’s a verse in Ecclesiastes that I’ve often seen used to talk about how life doesn’t always seem logical or fair that comes to mind in this context.

I returned and saw under the sun that — the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all. (Ecc. 9:11)

"What Makes Us Remarkable" by marissabaker.wordpress.comUsually when we talk about the unfairness of life, we only think of what is working against us. But “unfairness” happens in our favor as well. We just read in 1 Corinthians that we’re the weak, base, and poor of the world — where would we be if God only let the swift run the race (Heb. 12:1), only worked with the strong to win battles (Eph. 6:12-12), only fed those who were already wise (Mark. 6:34-42), only gave understanding to rich men (Mark. 10:23-25), and only showed favor to those who are skilled (Ex. 4:10-12)?