Counter-Culture: Triumphant Living in a Turbulent World
Week 7: Revelation 3:14-22
Our current series examines the powerful and encouraging message Jesus Christ sent his church in the New Testament book of Revelation. In the first three chapters of Revelation, Jesus Christ messaged seven third-generation churches about how to live God-honoring lives in a culture that disregards or opposes him. His last letter was addressed to the church in Laodicea. Laodicea was a wealthy city with a very successful cloth-making industry. It was also well known as a healing center where ointment for eye problems was a particular specialty. Unfortunately, the wealth and success caused the church to feel self-sufficient and without a healthy dependence on Jesus, they were becoming ineffective. Jesus did not want them to stay that way. He challenged them to repent and find true riches in him. His message is especially relevant for the church today in America.
Can you think of a time recently where you got in over your head with something and could not depend on your own resources to get through it?
Getting into the Text:
1. (Rev 3:14) What characteristics of Jesus are we reminded of in the opening to this letter? (Note that “Amen” means “in truth” or “let it be true” and was often used to express the reliability or truth of a statement or promise. See for example Nehemiah 5:12-13 and 2 Cor 1:18-20.)
2. (Rev 3:15-16) Although the city of Laodicea had much in its favor, it did not have a good source of water. Water was transported from hot springs in nearby Hierapolis via an aqueduct. The hot water in the springs was considered to have therapeutic value. Fresh cold water like that available in nearby Colossi was preferred for drinking. By the time the water from Hierapolis reached Laodicea, it was lukewarm and not optimal for either healing or refreshment. Given this context, what is Jesus criticizing the church at Laodicea for when he refers to them as lukewarm?
3. (Rev 3:17) The church in Laodicea believed they were well off but Jesus disagreed. They were blind to the truth about their condition. How is the way Jesus is described in the opening to this letter (Rev 3:14) relevant to this problem? In what ways might Jesus want to show you the truth about yourself?
4. (Rev 3:18) What is Jesus offering the church in Laodicea through these symbolic purchases? Note that wealth, a vibrant cloth industry, and medicinal eye salve were all things the Laodiceans took pride in. What might you be taking pride in or trusting in that is inferior to what Jesus offers? (See also 1 Peter 1:3-9 regarding what Jesus considers most valuable.)
5. (Rev 3:19-22) How do these last verses balance out the convicting word that Jesus has spoken to the church in the earlier verses? What is Jesus’ overall goal in sending this letter? Consider Hebrews 12:5-11. If we are children of God, what can we be sure to expect from God? What does scripture say about the way we should respond to God’s rebuke and discipline?
1. Wealth brings both opportunity and danger. The church at Laodicea fell prey to the dangers. The false sense of security that wealth offers can be a problem whether you are rich or wish you were better off. Are you trusting God as the only one who is completely able to determine your future? (See Mark 4:18-19, Luke 12:16-21, 1 Timothy 6:17-19 for more on this topic.)
2. In his helpful booklet My Heart - Christ’s Home, Robert Boyd Munger describes our lives as houses that we invite Jesus to live in at the moment of salvation. As Jesus tours each room, he finds things to be cleaned up, repaired, or totally renovated. This applies to the study (our mind), the dining room (our desires), the living room (where Jesus wants to spend time with us daily), the workshop (where we work with our hands), the rec room (our leisure), the bedroom (our sexuality), and the hall closet (where we hide things we don’t want anyone to see). Are there rooms in your life where the door has been closed and Jesus may be knocking? What steps could you take this week to invite Jesus into those spaces?