Firstly, Happy New Year! We pray the Lord will bless you all in 2022.
Secondly, it’s been while since we posted anything, several months in fact. There are a number of reasons for this, however, a new year is a good time for a new beginning, so all being well, with God’s help, we will start writing more regularly again going forward.
In the book of Revelation (chapters 2 and 3) we find short letters written from the Lord Jesus to the 7 churches in Asia Minor. These valuable letters are full of both reproofs and encouragements – including the promise of a crown of life to all who overcome.
One of these letters stands out. Whilst many of the churches are challenged in one way or another, all but one are also commended. However, the Lord Jesus has nothing positive to say to the church at Laodicea. Imagine if your church received a letter directly from God that said nothing positive about you – it would be a real wake up call, wouldn’t it? Or at least it should be!
The church at Laodicea was a real church, with real Christians, but they had grown sleepy. Or in the words of the letter, they were spiritually ‘lukewarm’. Jesus tells them that it would be better if they were hot or cold. By this he is not saying that hot is good, and cold is bad, but rather that hot water is good for cooking and washing, whilst cold water is good for a refreshing drink. However, lukewarm water is good for nothing, so in graphic language is ‘spued out of the mouth‘ (verse 16).
Laodicea was a wealthy city (famous for its textile trade and a medical school with eye expertise) and it seems the church there had become self-sufficient, materialistic and worldly-minded. They thought they had everything they needed spiritually and were no longer depending on the Lord Jesus. However as he tells them, whilst naturally rich and well clothed, this attitude meant they were spiritually poor, naked and blind. Clearly, they were distracted from the things that mattered; ‘gold’ or holiness, ‘white raiment’ or Christ’s imputed righteousness, and ‘eye salve’ or true God-given wisdom and knowledge (verse 18).
The Lord Jesus then goes on to say that he is rebuking them and calling them to repentance because he loves them (verse 10). He tells them that he is in effect standing at the door and knocking and will come in and ‘sup’ or eat a meal in friendship and fellowship with any who will open to him.
We find the church in a very similar state in the Song of Solomon (chapter 5).
I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night.
I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?Song of Solomon 5:2-3
Here again, Christ is knocking at the door, but the church is sleepy or even lazy. She makes excuses not to get out of bed to open the door, ‘I’ve put off my coat‘, ‘I’ve washed my feet‘. Sadly, when the church finally does wake up and make the effort, Jesus has withdrawn himself and she cannot find him (verse 6).
These examples are in the Bible as a warning to help us. God knows how easy it is for his people to get into a sleepy, lukewarm state, both as individual Christians and then of course in our churches, often without even realising it. There can be many reasons for this, but ultimately it’s because we lose sight of the preciousness and the necessity of the Lord Jesus. We forget that our whole salvation is entirely dependant on him, and our enjoyment of it is through an ongoing unity with him. Instead, like the Laodiceans, we drift away and become self-sufficient and self-satisfied. Maybe we get distracted (by work, friends, possessions, hobbies and ambitions) or, we get worldly-minded (too much sport, TV, novels or whatever it is for you). We end up drifting comfortably along which is a dangerous state to be in and can end very badly.
The results…We start to lose the discipline of wrestling prayer and regular Bible reading. We find that we no longer have the joy and peace that should come with being a Christian, and instead doubt more and lack assurance. We become unfruitful. We lose sight of the beauty of the gospel and any urgency to reach the souls of the lost. Finally, if we don’t repent it calls into question our whole faith.
Fortunately, there is a solution. Jesus is standing at the door knocking, calling to repentance. He may have withdrawn himself for a while, but he has promised that if we make the effort he will come in and sup with us. We can trust his word on this. So, if we seek the Lord Jesus again and ask for forgiveness. If we pray like David that he would restore to us the joy of salvation (Psalm 51:12). If we take to heart Jesus’s exhortation to his disciples to ‘watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation‘. If, most importantly, we focus again on the Lord Jesus and his beauty, meditating on how he is described in the second half of Song of Solomon 5 – ‘the chiefest among ten thousand…altogether lovely‘. Then we will once again find the Lord Jesus and say with the church ‘This is my beloved, and this is my friend‘.
As we start 2022, it’s worth us all asking how it is going spiritually? Are we lukewarm, or are we ‘hot or cold’. Are we alert, or are we asleep? If we are drifting along, then let’s listen to the warnings – the Lord Jesus is knocking, so let’s wake up, get out of bed, find some energy and open the door. This will enable us to start the new year in the best possible way.[B00001 – 01/01/2022]