Day 7 Letter to Laodicea
“Write the following to the messenger of the congregation in Laodicea, for these are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.”
To the church of Laodicea—so many things could be said of the parallel between this later day church and the contemporary. This church was full of potential for so many great things! Potential for influence, support, and to be positioned as a covering to the city, Laodicea was known for its prosperity. It was a financial center for the region. Her name means “human rights” or “self-righteousness.” Without going any further, you can start to get a glimpse into this church and her issues.
Established as a financial epicenter, she was the economic support and stability for the surrounding region, posing as an example of God’s great provision for his people! The true church has the ability to make both a spiritual impact on a community as well as an economic one. This church, however, placed a disproportionate value on their money over God. An overwhelmingly common issue for people who find their security and prominence in their wealth, they miss the “grace of God” component. They tend to see themselves as the sole provider and their wealth as their source.
God shares some very telling statements in his address to this rich church. “I know all that you do, and I know that you are neither frozen in apathy nor fervent with passion. How I wish you were either one or the other! But because you are neither cold nor hot, but lukewarm, I am about to spit you from my mouth. For you claim, ‘I’m rich and getting richer—I don’t need a thing.’ Yet you are clueless that you’re miserable, poor, blind, barren, and naked!” There it is. You claim to be rich and getting richer, yet you’re clueless to the fact that you are miserable. Powerful!
Let’s be clear, wealth in and of itself is not bad nor a problem for God. The bible talks about money about two thousand times. Actually, more than it talks about faith. God is not ashamed of his people being blessed with wealth. In fact, I think he is delighted for us to be blessed financially. Again, money is the currency of Earth, faith is the currency of Heaven. It takes both to live a successful life here on Earth. Money is required to care for a city, a family, a ministry. Money is a key that unlocks the door to many things on Earth.
But the problem is plain and clear! It’s the dependence and placement of it! When money becomes your God, it’s out of place. When you look for money to make you happy, give a feeling of fulfillment, or even be the gap between your now and next, you’ve misplaced it! Laodicea saw their money as all they needed!
God is always the gap. Your growth and management of what you already possess is located within that gap of being an indicator for God. Next, is contingent upon those two things. When it comes to money, God looks to see how well you manage what you already have and if you have it (money) in its rightful place. Laodicea had an order issue! For them, money was their provision and status, and having a plethora of it, there was little need for God. The sad part is, like so many who find out the hard way, they were willing to sacrifice things of value only to find out that what they sacrificed was worth far more than money.
They found themselves wealthy yet spiritually poor, unproductive, miserable, and ashamed. I’d assume not quite the tradeoff they had imagined! When you’ve achieved status, it’s easy to transition from trusting and leaning on God, to feeling self-contained and righteous in your own eyes. If your heart is not in the right place or if God does not hold the right level of value in your heart, you downplay God’s grace and exalt your own!
Laodicea had grown lukewarm. They weren’t passionate nor completely apathetic, just something in-between. According to God’s evaluation of them in every area of life, they were lukewarm. They produced less than they could, loved shallower than they should have, lived less fulfilled than they needed to, and experienced less wholeness than they could have experienced. All under the veil of prosperity!
God comes in to call them out of that disfunction and reunite them to their original design and call. Notice how God introduces Himself again to them as the originator (source), the authority of all. The Greek Septuagint reveals this word as “arche,” for ruler or authority. There is only one other place God uses this profound saying: “the Amen” or the “God of Amen” (See Isiah 65:16). God is giving Laodicea a chance to come back to their source, to place God back on the throne of authority and value in their lives or be rejected.
The same attribute of God’s nature we see consistently is God’s unrestrained mercy being extended to his bride. He unfolds the reality of where they are, where they could be, and gives them the invitation to reevaluate and proceed appropriately. They aren’t denied this grace! He has plainly shown them the error of their ways and strongly declares how he feels about it. The ball is now in their court. “So I counsel you to purchase gold perfected by fire, so that you can be truly rich. Purchase a white garment to cover and clothe your shameful Adam-nakedness. Purchase eye salve to be placed over your eyes so that you can truly see.”
He beckons them to purchase gold perfected by fire, so you can be truly rich. True wealth originates from a spiritual connectedness to their creator. His workmanship in your life is a work forged in fire for the perfecting of all you are and possess. To have had spiritual posterity and abandon that role, to have had pure, intimate fellowship with God and take it for granted…it’s all portrayed as “Adam-nakedness.” Adam-nakedness is the shame Adam experienced. God is saying you can have that removed if you will value/honor me above your natural wealth and become zealous for me once again. Place eye salve on your eyes so you can see things as they truly are. Then you will truly be rich!
“All those I dearly love I unmask and train. So repent and be eager to pursue what is right. Behold, I’m standing at the door, knocking. If your heart is open to hear my voice and you open the door within, I will come into you and feast with you, and you will feast with me.” Again, grace! If the Father loves you, you can be sure He won’t relent to chase you down and call you back into His presence. Holy eyes see you unmasked and desires to train you.
God uses the remembrance of the Jewish wedding invitation as the analogy to present his affection and reality of the situation. In the Jewish custom, a wedding invitation was presented with the father and the son going to the home of the bride-to-be. Barring the betrothal cup of wine and the bride-price, they would stand outside the bride’s family home and knock. If she opened the door half mass, it was an indication that she was less than impressed. That would be a no. If she opened the door wide, she was saying, “Yes, I will be your bride!”
The Aramaic translation is, “I have been standing at the door, knocking.” The Father has been knocking in the midst of your living and pursuits and you’ve left me here knocking. Will you open the door wide and be my bride?
To the one who conquers, the one who overcomes the need to be “self” admired, contained and righteous, “I will give the opportunity to be seated with the groom on his throne.”
Let him whose heart is open to hear, let him take careful note of what the Spirit is saying now to the church. It’s zeal check time! The bridegroom is knocking at the door carrying his bride-price—the offering of reigning in royalty on the throne with her groom! However, the bridegroom is knocking on the door looking for a bride who is passionate and impressed with her groom above her worldly gains. Will you open the door wide? Or will you stay contained in your home with your wealth, achievements, and status?
Let’s sum it up:
- True wealth is not simply economic accumulation.
- The ability to produce, see things as they truly are, and commune with God is the key to abundance.
- Keep your passion and zeal alive for God, life and love.
- Open the door wide for your bridegroom!
- Consistently self-evaluate your priorities! – Be sure your career, money, and all things “life” never outweigh God on the treasure chart of your heart.
- Keep a treasure chart! It will help you maintain your gratitude and proper placement of value for kingdom things.
- Be careful not to become self-righteous (having the opinion that your personal right, moral superiority, and goodness have made you prosperous).
Father, today I come back to the one who started all things and recommit to seeing you as my one true source. You are my everything. Ignite the fires of passion within my soul and let me find you in the place of communion. Behold, I open the door for you to enter my heart. As I end this series of letters, I recommit my life to you and ask you for grace and strength to overcome. Like Ephesus meaning “desirable or deeply loved by God,” help me remember I am deeply loved by you. Like Smyrna, meaning “myrrh,” help me go through all I’m called to go through. Like Pergamum, meaning “elevated places,” let me experience seasons of praise and favor. Like Thyatira, meaning “the odor of affliction,” help me learn to praise while I go through hardships. Like Sardis, meaning “those who escape,” help me break free from my past. Like Philadelphia, meaning “brotherly love, make me a better lover of the people in my life. Finally, like Laodicea, meaning “people’s rights,” help me surrender all my rights to you.
In Jesus name,
Questions to ponder:
Have you noticed in yourself a decrease of value for kingdom things?
Have you examined any faulty, limiting thinking of your own when it comes to finance?
What, if anything causes your passion and zeal for God to diminish?