God with us - Week 11: Revelation 3:20
While in prison on the Island of Patmos, Jesus appeared to John in a vision. The book of Revelation documents the contents of that vision, and let's be honest, it's a confusing read at times! Today's Scripture is pretty straight forward but digging into the background context is always essential. Within the book of Revelation, there are seven letters written to seven churches, and Jesus had plenty to get off His chest to each of them.
15 "I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! 16 But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!
Jesus wasn't holding back!
These words, directed to the church at Laodicea, are found in Revelation 3:14-22 and contain our Scripture for this week. If I got a letter like this, I'd be pretty annoyed, but as I mentioned before, context is everything.
The Christians at Laodicea lived in an affluent society. The city was a centre for banking, had a roaring textile trade, and was the lead in ophthalmic pharmaceuticals. The only downside was that the water was absolutely foul, but that's for another blog (see link below). The people of Laodicea were a cut above the rest. After an earthquake in AD17, the city refused Rome's help to rebuild because it was so fabulous it didn't need outside support. The problem was that this cultural self-sufficiency had crept into the Laodicean church as well.
17 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.
Again, Jesus is not holding back, but this letter is meant to be a wake-up call. Jesus makes it clear that He's not singling them out when He says, "I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference." (Revelation 3:19) The Laodicean church had money, power, and influence, and yet their spiritual lives were tepid and left a bitter taste in the mouth of Jesus. It's in this context that we need to read the words of our Scripture for this week:
20 "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.
The theme for all these blogs is "God with us," but are we inviting God's presence into every aspect of our lives, or is He stood waiting at the door while we "just finish what we're doing"?
Like the Laodiceans, is self-sufficiency something you need to keep an eye on?
I have to be so careful with this.
Just like a child, I can hear myself insisting to God that I can do it on my own, even the stuff I'm doing for Him. Our affluence may not be financial, but it could be in the way we think we rely on our own capabilities and strength.
Jesus knocks at the door of our heart and waits.
Do we even hear His voice in the middle of our busy lives, or is it just an inconvenience?
Are we like the Laodiceans, not realising how far we've drifted from the presence of God, thinking we have it all together?
I discovered this week that in the ancient world, a meal invitation like the one found in Revelation 3:20 was extended to an estranged person hoping that it would pave the way for reconciliation.
Jesus stands at the door and knocks.
Will we hear His voice, answer the invitation and truly experience "God with us?"