To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
“These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (New International Version)
Christianity holds that the Lord Jesus is the rightful sovereign of the universe. Christ uses that power and authority to rule with justice and equity. He delivers people from guilt, shame, disobedience, and the realm of darkness. All of life hinges on God’s ability, not ours.
Yet, having said that, this does not mean we lack responsibility before God, as if whatever is going to happen is going to happen, and I’m just a passive spectator.
Today’s New Testament lesson is Christ’s words to the ancient church in the city of Laodicea. It seems the church folk in that city were less than zealous about their faith. Maybe they thought God was going to do whatever God was going to do and felt no compunction to act. Perhaps the Laodiceans believed that if they were “hot” that they’d have to go to Africa, be around snakes, and wear polyester all day.
So, likely out of some fear they might lose their wealth or livelihood, the church took a “Meh, whatever” kind of response to the Christian life. It appears the Laodiceans thought God wasn’t even noticing, resulting in a middle of the road approach of just getting by.
Well, of course, the Laodicean believers got noticed – enough to warrant a letter to them from Jesus. I’d say someone was watching!
Whereas we might get frustrated with milquetoast responses and try to light a fire under the passive person’s behind, the response of Jesus to the Laodiceans was to calmly stand at the door and knock, waiting to be invited in.
Jesus didn’t go full emergency response on them and break down their church door, forcefully going inside to assert his will. Rather than imposing himself on the Laodiceans, the Lord of all simply and persistently knocked, patiently waiting for a response.
As it turns out, the ones not paying attention are us, not Jesus. Christ longs for meaningful fellowship and interaction with us. Jesus wants us to respond to divine overtures to meet with him. The Lord is at your doorstep exclaiming, “Here I am!”
Will you let him in today? Or are you afraid that he will take something away from you?
God is trying to get our attention. The Lord does it through all kinds of ways – adverse circumstances, other people (even and especially the ornery ones) – knocking on our door. Yes, God is the one knocking on our door – and not the other way around.
This is anything but an aloof God who is unconcerned for what is going on in our lives. In fact, just the opposite is true. We seem a bit unconcerned, even “lukewarm” about God, not noticing the good purposes being worked out all around us.
Jesus stands at the door. We don’t get many post-resurrection accounts of Jesus standing. That’s because sitting is a sign and symbol that the work is finished. And, indeed, the work of the cross is done. We are the ones sitting in the recliner. We are the people who need to be standing because our work is not yet done.
So, amazingly, Jesus gets up from his throne, comes to us, standing at the door knocking, graciously meeting us when we aren’t moving.
The watershed issue of our day, from a Christian perspective, is our response, or lack thereof, to Christ’s overtures to let him in our house.
Maybe we can’t hear him because we are busy vacuuming. Perhaps we don’t hear because of the headphones we have on. It could be that we are just too deaf and dull to notice the racket going on at our front porch while we watch TV. Whatever it is, the only cure for being lukewarm is inviting Jesus into the house.
If Jesus is on the outside, he wants to be on the inside. He could break your door down if he wanted to, but he chooses to respond to the invitation for hospitality. Jesus wants to meet with us.
For the times we neglect to care for our brothers and sisters in Christ, please forgive us, Lord.
For the times we fail to welcome new people who look or act different from ourselves, please forgive us, Lord.
For the times we neglect to notice and pay attention to the Spirit, please forgive us, Lord.
And for the times we pretend not to be home when you are knocking, please forgive us, Jesus.
Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy, Lord, have mercy upon us, and grant us your peace. Amen.