Revelation 3:14-22: Laodicea
Laodicea is the worst of the 7 churches. Unlike the church in Sardis who was dead but still had a small group who had kept their garments white, Laodicea was a church that had gone altogether bad. There are no commendations for the church in Laodicea. The Laodicean church it seems had taken on the characteristics of the town it was in. Laodicea was the most important of the 3 towns in the Lycan valley. The others were Colosse and Heirapolis. Laodicea was a wealthy town, when they were hit by an earthquake they turned down any government help and rebuilt themselves. Rich citizens rebuilt many of the main features. Trading, transportation, banking and commerce were thriving in Laodicea. They were self-sufficient and well off.
The church in Laodicea seems to have been infected by this attitude. They were self-assured and did not see their spiritual condition or need. As a church they were in real danger of Christ rejecting them but they could not see their precarious position. It appears that they have 3 main problems. The first problem is one that we in the West face, affluenza! We are sick from the excess offerings of our consumer society, we are addicts running around chasing our next fix in a self-absorbed fog. One person defines it as, ‘an array of psychological maladies such as isolation, boredom, passivity and lack of motivation engendered in adults, teenagers and children by possession of their great wealth;’ ‘an unhappy condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more.’1 The Laodiceans were rich in worldly things but poor in spiritual things, in this way they are the opposite of those in Smyrna, ‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich). The second problem is one of compromise in order to have this ease. We know that in every other town there was the problem of the synagogue, Emperor worship or idolatry associated with the trade guilds. It appears that Laodicea has not maintained its purity and been persecuted but has gone with the flow and has soiled its garments and is in need of new white garments. The third problem is the results of the first two, Laodicea have lost their witness, they are saltless salt. Let’s see how Christ addresses this church.