In Revelation 3:17, Jesus said to the church of Laodicea: “…you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ —and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked…” (NKJV).
The local body of believers in Laodicea had become self-sufficient. In their own eyes, they thought they needed nothing, but in fact, they were blind, poor, naked, and wretched.
The tragedy of this church was that the attitude of the entire city had become the attitude of the Christians who lived within its borders. The church wasn’t standing out as an example of a higher standard in the city. Rather, it reflected the same mindset as the pagan society that surrounded it.
On a purely natural level, there wasn’t a more prosperous city in Asia Minor than Laodicea. It prided itself on its financial wealth and sophisticated banking systems. It was rich and needed nothing from Rome or anywhere else. Even after a great earthquake caused significant damage in 17 AD, Laodicea asked for no help in its rebuilding process.
The clothing made in this city was famous around the world, and the raven-black wool of the sheep was the most luxurious. Merchants and buyers passed through the city across the major roads that connected Ephesus to the west with Persia to the east.
The wealth and abundance of Laodicea was also enjoyed by many believers in the church. Jesus’ words to this ancient church therefore provide an important lesson that the modern Church needs to heed as well.
The ease that can come with abundance can ultimately have a corrosive effect. It becomes very easy to relax our grip on the Word and slow the pace of our pursuit of God in our life. This listless and self-absorbed Christian life is the lukewarm condition that Jesus rebuked in Laodicea.
The same apostle who wrote the Book of Revelation also wrote this sober warning: “Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward” (2 John 8 NKJV).
Jesus’ message to the Laodiceans has a powerful application to us today. We face the pressure of corruption all around us and are daily confronted by the moral decline within our society. Economic fear and other spiritual attacks are bombarding us continually; all designed to uproot the Word in our hearts.
In the midst of it all, we must keep looking to the Word to receive our full reward. Continue to sow the seeds of God’s Word in faith, expecting every promise He has ever made to us to be manifested in our life. We certainly don’t want to leave behind any of the divine rewards that belong to us!
The power to live above the pressures that surround us come from the healing and refreshing waters the Holy Spirit provides in our inner man. We must keep our eyes on God and on His Word and never cease to drink from the waters of the covenant God has made with us.