Church of Laodicea: Death by Contentment: By Donald Whitchard

Revelation 3:14-22; Matthew 22:5, 24:12; Luke 10:2; Proverbs 21:2; 2 Corinthians 10:12

Summary: The last of the seven churches listed in Revelation 2-3 had the reputation of being the church that made Jesus sick due to its religious indifference. Heed the lesson.

The downward slide that started in Ephesus with the loss of their “First Love” culminated with the total apostasy found in the last church mentioned in Revelation, Chapters 2 and 3, located in the city of Laodicea. The city was founded in 253 B.C. by Antiochus II and named after his wife, Laodice. It was built upon a high plateau, which made it secure from potential enemies. However, the location of the city had an effect on its water supply. There was no ready source of water.

The city of Hierapolis, located 6 miles to the north, had hot springs, and Colossae, located 10 miles east, had supplies of cold water. By the time these two sources made their way to Laodicea, the water had become lukewarm and tepid, which did no one any good. This was a picture of the spiritual tepidness and ineffectiveness of the church located there, which would not be overlooked by the Lord Jesus, who called them out for it, among other issues.

Laodicea was a center of banking and finance, a wool manufacturing industry for clothing, rugs, and other goods, and a center for medical research and care, producing a salve known to help people who had eye problems. This attitude of wealth and privilege had crept into the attitude of the church, believing that it had everything it needed; it had succumbed to a state of indifference toward what was truly important, and that was the spread of the Gospel and winning souls for the kingdom of God.

The Lord Jesus told them in no uncertain terms that this “lukewarm” attitude made Him want to vomit them from His mouth (3:15-16). This situation is a tragic but true picture of the majority of churches today as they grow more content with their numbers, programs, status, and with the false and damnable idea that if they can get the world to somehow like them, then all will be well.

The spirit of Laodicea has infiltrated the church in these last days just as the Bible says it would, neither hot with the fire of evangelistic zeal nor cold with rigid formality. We are content with being swayed by two opinions, just as the Israelites were when confronted by the prophet Elijah (1 Kings 18:21).

Jesus confronted Laodicea, just as He does with any church that thinks they’re “all that and a bag of chips.” He gave them the blunt truth, telling them that in terms of spiritual effectiveness for the kingdom of God, they were “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked” (3:17). Just as He did in the Temple, He had His scourge ready to drive out what was ungodly and open the people’s eyes to their real condition and what needed to be done in order to make things right. This was a trip to the “woodshed” that they needed. The counsel that the Lord gave them applies to us as well.

Jesus told them to “buy” the true and everlasting gold of heaven that would never rust, corrode, or be taken by thieves (Matthew 6:19-21). They were to look to that which is eternal and not the temporal and corrupt riches of a fallen world. They were to obtain the clothing of righteousness that would never fade or tear (Rev. 4:4, 7:9, 13, 19:8), symbolizing the purity of Christ and the saints. He provides true healing and opens the eyes of the blind. Medicine has its value and purpose in this world, but it is, at best, temporary and limited in its effects. Total healing will come for the people of God when Jesus returns to this world and will make all things new (Revelation 21:1-7).

He concludes by “knocking on the door” of our backslidden hearts and letting Him come in to have fellowship with us that we all too often neglect (3:20). For any church to be effective in these last days, it begins with a change within each of us.

Are you a true follower of Jesus Christ, or have you fallen into a state of spiritual indifference like Laodicea? If you want to see revival and a hunger for God be rekindled in your life and that of the church you attend, then turn from the junk and mud of the world. Quit trying to appease the world. Make a stand for Christ, and do not let anyone or anything deter you from being a vessel of service to the King. Stay hot. We don’t need any more tepid and apathetic attitudes. Not now when Jesus’ return is so near.

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