seven letters  laodicea part IV

"I am the one who corrects and disciplines everyone I love. Be diligent and turn from your indifference" (Revelation 3:19 NLT).

If you're a student, athlete or musician then you probably know that being the best you can be in these areas isn't always easy. This is because being the best often means getting involved in some not-so-fun things like practice, hard work, study, correction and discipline. You see, people who don't have the discipline of study, practice and correction usually don't do very well when it comes time for a test, game or concert. A good athlete, student or performer understands the importance of these things and this also hold true for someone's spiritual life as well. A great teacher or coach will work hard to motivate, correct and discipline their students and players to be the best they can be and Jesus says that He does the much same thing in our spiritual lives as well. Now let's not kid ourselves- spiritual correction and discipline is never easy but once that training is finished, you'll get to enjoy the positive results that God wants you to have. The Bible's book of Hebrews explains those positive results like this: 

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it" (Hebrews 12:11 NIV).  

If Jesus didn't love you then He wouldn't discipline you, just as He said to the church in Laodicea. You can trust that God has a purpose for those periods of spiritual discipline that you experience and He will bring something good from them if you allow Him to bring you through them.

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me" (Revelation 3:20 NKJV). 

Here is something that's really amazing when you think about it: This was supposed to be Jesus' church in Laodicea, right? So how come He is left standing outside the door trying to get into His own church? Well as we said earlier, this was really the Laodiceans' church and not Jesus' church in Laodicea, which meant that it had very little in common with Him except perhaps in name only. However, we can also apply Jesus' illustration above in a larger sense by understanding this "door" as a way of representing someone's innermost person in an emotional and spiritual sense. Remember that Jesus' desire is to have a relationship with people that's based on real love. Since real, genuine, authentic love can't be forced, Jesus won't try to force His way into the life of someone who isn't willing to open up to Him. He will "stand at the door" so to speak and enter someone's life only when He gets an invitation to do so. 

So Jesus knocks at the door of our lives because He desires to be with us and we can see this represented by the back half of the verse quoted above where it says, "If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me" (NIV). This unusual illustration becomes a bit easier to understand when we stop to think about what mealtimes were like back when the book of Revelation was first written. 

For example, the people of that time ate three major meals each day just as most people eat breakfast, lunch and dinner today. The first meal was often made up of bread with a filling of fruit, cheese or olives that could be eaten on the way to work. The first century version of lunch was a mid-day meal that usually consisted of more bread, cheese, fruit and olives. Finally, there was an evening meal that was normally eaten around six or seven o'clock. This course typically featured a stew made from lentils or vegetables along with thin slices of bread for dipping. This was the big meal of the day and it involved a lot more than simply just eating. You see, this meal was seen as an opportunity for people to get together socially and it was very important from a cultural standpoint. It was a time of intimate fellowship and conversation as everyone sat down to eat together and Jesus used this to illustrate the close, personal relationship that He desires to have with everyone who follows Him.

"I will let everyone who conquers sit beside me on my throne, just as I took my place with my Father on his throne when I had conquered" (Revelation 3:21).

If the 1st century Laodicean church and our 21st century culture have anything in common it might be that both are known for lots of indifference. This presents a problem because you really can't establish the kind of genuine, loving, intimate relationship that Jesus wants to have with someone who doesn't really care. That's one reason why Jesus rejects lukewarm Christianity. However, Jesus is willing to offer a place with Himself -a place of honor, respect, friendship and authority- for those who choose to enter a real, loving relationship with Him.

"He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches" (Revelation 3:22 KJV).

Even though the churches of Ephesus, Pergamum, Smyrna, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea no longer exist today, you still ought to pay close attention to the things that Jesus says to these seven churches. These messages are not just directed to a church or a group of churches- these messages are for anyone who is willing to listen and apply the things that Jesus says to them. 

Remember, don't let your love get cold like the people of Ephesus did. Don't be afraid of those who fight against what you believe as Jesus said to the church at Smyrna. Don't accept false teaching as the church at Pergamum did. Don't compromise and call it "tolerance" like the people of Thyatira. Don't look good on the outside but have a dead faith on the inside like the church at Sardis. Take advantage of the open doors of opportunity like those that Jesus presented to the church at Philadelphia. Don't settle for a indifferent, apathetic, self-deceived relationship with Jesus like the church at Laodicea did. Think about the things that Jesus says to these churches and then look for ways to apply those things in your own life.

The Doctor is not a real doctor but he plays one on the Internet. E-Mail prescriptions are also available on an individual basis.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptural references taken from The Living Bible, 1971, Tyndale House Publishers

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