Living in Laodicea

Posted: February 4, 2016 in Generic, Inspirational, Motivational, Religion
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I was being called to surrender the very citadel of my “self”. I was completely in the dark. I did not really know what repentance was or what I was required to repent of. It was indeed the turning point of my life.” – Bede Griffiths –

The ancient city of Laodicea was a wealthy and industrious cosmopolitan community located in the province of Phrygia (modern day western Turkey). Benefiting from a prosperous economy, due in part to an advantageous location on a busy trade route, the average Laodicean citizen enjoyed the fruits of affluence. Ancient Laodicea was also an early focal point of Christianity. The Newer Testament writer Paul mentions Laodicea in his letter to the Colossians (2:1, 4:13–16). But the Christians of Laodicea are perhaps best known for the severe rebuke they received from the risen Liberator Jesus as recorded in the Book of Revelation. Having appeared to the exiled writer John of Patmos (Ἰωάννης ὁ Θεολόγος), Jesus refers to himself as: the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Ruler of God’s Creation, and then goes on to chastise the Laodicean church for being lukewarm, neither cold nor hot, and for failing to recognize their apathy and spiritual blindness (Revelation 3:16–17).   Why such harsh words?

Simple, the Laodicean Christians were wealthy and blessed in material things, but they were bankrupt and blinded to their pitiful spiritual condition. Theirs was a church filled with self-deceived pretenders. And so, the Anointed One, the Liberator Himself, called these backslidden Laodicean Christians to repentance. If they would just repent; Jesus would come in and take His rightful place in the midst of them (Revelation 3:20). You know what? I think our Creator is issuing the same call to those who claim to be following Him today.  Is it time for Christians to repent?

Of all acts of man repentance is the most divine. The greatest of all faults is to be conscious of none.” ~Thomas Carlyle

Look around. In many places (especially prosperous nations and particularly the United States of America), multitudes of professing Christians have become apathetic in their passion to truly live for the God whom they supposedly follow. The deceitfulness of an affluent society, the overabundance of modern distractions, and the desires for material possessions have come in and choked the reality of their convictions, making them void of any genuine power. (Mark 4:19). As a result, the contemporary cultural influence of Christianity in the marketplace of philosophies is conspicuous only by its absence.

On more than one occasion the Liberator Jesus referred to His followers as the salt of the earth. (Matthew 5:13) Salt is both a preservative and a flavor enhancer. The Christian Church was intended to be a preservative in the world, stabilizing it from the evils found in a social order corrupted by covetousness, greed and wickedness. Christians who are full of faith and the Holy Spirit, (Acts 11:24) will naturally enhance the world for good.

But, much of the modern Christian Church is broken. The “enlightened” Christian community of our day is in many ways a re-embodiment of the Laodicean church of the ancient past.   Instead of boasting in our comforts and accomplishments, we should be repenting for the impotence of our message.

I submit to you that repentance is one of the least used words in contemporary  Christianity. Not surprising. Calling people to repentance is not politically correct. To compel someone to repent you must first accuse them of wickedness (sin). In a culture nearly intolerant of the mere mention of personal accountability for one’s own depravity (sin), teaching biblical repentance in any form has largely been whitewashed or it is merely ignored.

In the classic Christian world view, repentance means a change of mind that results in a change of action. The Newer Testament writer Paul wrote, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their actions (Acts 26:20). If our repentance is sincere, we will first turn to God for His Saving Grace through the Liberator Jesus and as a result our life choices (and thus our actions) will be governed by the wisdom that comes from the principles and precepts of His word (the Scriptures). Listen again to apostolic writer Paul:

17“Every part of the Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped for the tasks God has for us.” (2 Timothy 3:17)

Sadly, you won’t hear that message in many mainline Christian churches anymore. The modern place of worship is far too busy entertaining the “troops” or embracing worldly ways of opportunity for service and growth. There are exceptions of course. But we cannot ignore the many self-proclaimed Christians who are living on their own terms, following the “doctrines of men” (Matthew 15:7-9) and in conformity with the secular world. The New Testament writer James put it quite bluntly,

4“You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4 NLT)

Aligning yourself (friendship) with the god of this world makes you an enemy of the God of the universe.  Any questions?

The mystery of the Christian life is that Christ expects us to flee sin and the devil, but does not expect us to rid ourselves of either on this side of glory. Repentance is a way of life, and so is the pursuit of godliness. I wish every Christian could be reminded of these two things.” ~Kevin DeYoung

In the Old Testament Book of Isaiah, Chapter 30, the prophet describes how God feels about His chosen people making alliances that are inappropriate.  It’s not pleasant reading.  The Chapter begins like this,

1“What sorrow awaits my rebellious children,” says the Lord. “You make plans that are contrary to mine. You make alliances not directed by my Spirit, thus piling up your sins. For without consulting me, you have gone down to Egypt for help. You have put your trust in Pharaoh’s protection. You have tried to hide in his shade. But by trusting Pharaoh, you will be humiliated, and by depending on him, you will be disgraced. For though his power extends to Zoan (an ancient city in the Nile River delta) and his officials have arrived in Hanes (a fortress on the N.E. frontier of Egypt), all who trust in him will be ashamed. He will not help you. Instead, he will disgrace you.” (Isaiah 30:1-5)

In this narrative, God is angry with His people because they did not seek the direction of His Holy Spirit. Without consulting Him, Judah hatched a plan that was contrary to the Divine will. God stirs the ancient seer Isaiah to warn them that trusting their adversary for protection (in this case the Pharaoh of Egypt) would end in their humiliation. But Judah did not want to hear it. They wanted a “feel-good” message – something upbeat. And so Isaiah writes,

10-11 “They tell my prophets, “Shut up—we don’t want any more of your reports!” Or they say, “Don’t tell us the truth; tell us nice things; tell us lies. Forget all this gloom; we’ve heard more than enough about your ‘Holy One of Israel’ and all he has to say.” (Isaiah 30:10-11)

Many believe we could apply much of the Isaiah indictment to the modern Church. Perhaps they have a point. It sure does appear that today’s secularized Christians have grown indifferent to the unadulterated truth. The prophetic writings warned us of a coming period of delusion well in advance:

“For there is going to come a time when people won’t listen to the truth but will go around looking for teachers who will tell them just what they want to hear. They won’t listen to what the Bible says but will blithely follow their own misguided ideas.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4 TLB)

I would say that the time has come, no? The blind are leading the blind. The inmates have taken over the asylums. It’s a dangerous world we live in, bereft of much genuine Divine revelation but full of counterfeit supernatural fascinations. The problem is not with the Almighty One – it never is.

Fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms… This process of surrender… is what Christians call repentance.” ~ C. S. Lewis

Fear not, God still has a voice today. The Liberator Jesus said of His followers,

27“The sheep that are my own can hear and are listening to my voice; and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27 AMP)

We who still hear His voice are His voice in these last days!

So once again, Should Christians repent?  Well, that’s really between you and your Creator.  But it couldn’t hurt to ponder the question.

Maybe it’s time to change your way of thinking (repent) and get in step with the will of God for your life. Be prepared to admit that you have been wrong.  Accept the fact that you do not have all of the answers.  Acknowledge that you may have failed to faithfully follow in the footsteps of the one you claim to believe in – The Liberator Jesus.  Confession (and repentance) is good for the soul! Don’t just talk about repentance – DO IT!

The Christian message always begins with a call to repent. Before you run off and proclaim the good news of faith in God to others, try to live the message Jesus brought to the earth yourself, as best as you can, every day. God has something far greater in mind for all of us than any of life’s illusions could ever deliver.

Be not deceived.

20 “Look! I have been standing at the door, and I am constantly knocking. If anyone hears me calling him and opens the door, I will come in and fellowship with him and he with me. (Revelation 3:20 TLB)

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2016 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.  For more information write to:
Insight Today, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, FL 34656

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