untried and true
We’ve arrived at the final week of our “Guts” series. We’ve repeated the truth over and over again, that it takes guts to follow Jesus. The life of a true follower is not an easy one. It is not for the faint of heart. It is a daily battle that takes every bit of the “us” that we need to empty out of our lives and every bit of the “Him” that gets poured in as the right replacement. It takes Guts!
We can wrap up this whole series in one quote from the 20th-century theologian, G.K. Chesterson:
“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”
For anyone who has genuinely started out on the journey of following Jesus, and persevered through everything that surely followed, there is no one who comes out the other side of that thinking it was dumb, didn’t work or was bad for them. The genuine follower isn’t always happy (many times far from it), and doesn’t find the road easy, but always finds the journey worth every bit of the effort and sacrifice. They are transformed, and unapologetic.
the final two churches
We’ve been focused on the book of Revelation and, more specifically, on Jesus’ letters to seven churches in chapter’s two and three. This week, we look at the final two … Philadelphia and Laodecia … and the two could not be more different.
“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Philadelphia. This is the message from the one who is holy and true, the one who has the key of David. What he opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open: “I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me. Look, I will force those who belong to Satan’s synagogue—those liars who say they are Jews but are not—to come and bow down at your feet. They will acknowledge that you are the ones I love. “Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God—the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name. “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.
True to the letters to the previous five churches, Jesus begins with strong encouragement. Philadelphia is obviously doing things right. They are remaining faithful, and because of that, God has opened some “door” (opportunity) for them (that they likely knew exactly what it was, although Scripture does not reveal it for us). Then Jesus gets serious.
There are people who are opposing the church in Philadelphia (Jesus refers to them as “Satan’s synagogue”). Jesus boldly declares that He will protect the church from this group and make them literally bow down at their feet and acknowledge that the faithful in Philadelphia are the ones God loves. Heavy stuff! But, how good would it be if God would write a letter like this one to the believers at Life Bridge?!
“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Laodicea. This is the message from the one who is the Amen—the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s new creation: “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference. “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. “Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne. “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.”
This is a sharp contrast to the church in Philadelphia. If Philly is all about faithful and uncompromising, Laodecia is all about compromise. Jesus does not begin this letter with encouragement. He dives right in without hesitation. It is as if he is saying to the people of the church, “At this moment, you are worthless! At this moment, you are of absolutely no use to my kingdom.” The people of the church in Laodicea are living in compromise. They claim Jesus, but then live as they want. They are not indifferent, they are literally living out of both sides of their mouths.
Then Jesus extends the grace and opportunity for forgiveness that is only true of God. In the midst of their filthy condition, Jesus offers forgiveness and restoration if they will turn from their sin. Jesus stands at their door and knocks. What powerful imagery in their circumstance, and how meaningful and applicable that is today. If you are that person, Jesus stands at your door today and knocks.
are you in or out?
So, here is an equal truth to His standing and knocking at the door of someone who has not yet genuinely believed and repented. There will come a day when the knocking will stop. He is there today, and He will be there every day … up until the moment He is not. Jesus is coming back, and when He does, He will turn from your door and never return. So the question today is, are you in or are you out? Jesus says clearly, through the letter to the church in Laodecia, there is no middle ground. You are in, or you are out. What is your answer?