Speaker: Rev. Doug de Graffenried
Scripture Passage: Revelation 3:14-22
Originally Preached: May 1, 2022
So, this week in your Jesus readings, you will be reading from the book of the Revelation, and the book of the Revelation causes great consternation sometimes, if you forget why it’s written. it is addressed to the seven churches, and you read that in the first chapter. John is told to write in a book what you see and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. And each one of these churches has their own challenge, and we can learn something about being a church and about being the people of God By studying the churches. And the messages in the fourth chapters onward are to these churches. need to hang on to that one. So, our lesson this morning comes from the third chapter starting in the 14th verse. It is the message to the church. It Leo to see you
hear these words and to the angel of the church at Laodicea write the words of the army in the faithful and true witness the origin of God’s creation. I know your works. You are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither cold nor hot, I’m about to spit you out of my mouth. for you Say I’m rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked. There are four I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich and white robes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen and sahib to anoint your eyes that you may see eye reprove and discipline. Those whom I love be earnest therefore and repent. Listen, I’m standing at the door knocking. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come into you and eat with you and you with me. The one who conquers. I will give a place with me on my throne. Just as I myself conquered and sat down with my father on his throne. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the spirit is saying to the churches
Friends this is the Word of God for the people of God. Thanks. Be to God. Amen.
So, they sent my friend Hadley to New Orleans after the hurricane, and they said, Hadley, go build a church. And they didn’t give him an old church building to remodel. Did you give him a piece of property where he could put one of those signs? Future Home of a United Methodist Church? They didn’t even give him an address. They gave him a tent. Hadley, here’s your tent. Go to the Seventh Ward of New Orleans and preach. Do it however you want to do it. So, Hadley, his first purchase after the annual conference, gave him a tent. Hadley bought the three things necessary for ministry under a tent: a generator, an old Peavey sound system, and a coffee pot. Look man, if your sound system or your coffee pot goes out on Sunday morning, people will let you know, In a spirit of love. you Methodists have got to have their caffeine. so, Hadley set up shop on a street corner in New Orleans and under the tent in New Orleans in the morning works fine most of the year.
There are some days in the winter you don’t really want to be there because it’s kind of cold, but otherwise it’s a little balmy, but you can handle it. And worship started; I love this, Worship started when the congregation gathered. There was no set start time for worship. It’s just as people wandered up and Hadley thought they had enough to have a quorum, he would have church. And this one particular Sunday morning, Hadley was under the tent working on his generator or sound system or something, and this fella who had been imbibing adult beverages all night, all night, comes staggering up to Hadley. He is drunker than Cooter Brown. I’ve never known who Cooter Brown is, but Cooter Brown gets drunk a lot. and this guy wanders up to Hadley and Hadley says, hello, I’m Pastor Hadley, and who are you?
And a fellow said, my name’s Pork Chop and he kind of slurred it. It has a proper spelling. And Pork Chop didn’t use it. I’m Pork Chop. Hadley said, Pork Chop is good to meet you. Why don’t you come in and have church with us this morning? And Pork Chop said, any church that would let me in ain’t much of a church. God forgive us.
Well, Hadley thought the thing he needed to do was get at least one cup of coffee into Pork Chop. So, he proceeded to pour black one real tall, handed it Pork Chop. He listened as Pork Chop unpacked his story. Pork Chop said, you know me. Oh, you know me. I used to play for them. New Orleans Saints. and indeed, Pork Chop was a former saint. I used to be good. And Hadley listened as Pork Chop continued to unfold his story. And then Pork Chop decided that what he wanted to do most was to become a greater in that church. So as people would walk up to come into the tent to have worship, Pork Chop would greet them, and he would tell them the story of where he’d been the night before.
Several bars in the Seventh Ward. What he had to drink too much of it, and how he used to play football for them New Orleans Saints. Pork Chop was the best usher and greeter that church ever had. He did it with such enthusiasm and a lack of sobriety. People were just thrilled to meet Pork Chop. and the morning wore on, and Hadley had gotten a couple of more pretty substantial cups of coffee into Pork Chop, but he was not completely sober yet. I’m not going to ask you if you’re ahead one of those that went away and then came back. But that’s what Pork Chop had one of those that went away, but then came back nearly time for church to start. They have gotten a quorum, and Pork Chop has greeted all of them, handed them a bulletin. They’re excited and heartily phone rings and it’s the drummer. Brother Hadley, I can’t make it to church this morning. I’m sorry. I think the guitar player will be fine by themselves. We’re just going to do church without drums. Can you imagine us trying to do church without drums? It just wouldn’t be church, would it? We gotta have our drums. Pork Chop heard it and Pork Chop told Hadley, I’m a drummer. I can play the drums. Pork Chop. That’s so nice. So, you know, Brother Hadley, I can play the drums. And so, Hadley issued an invitation for Pork Chop to audition right there in front of God and everybody. And turns out Pork Chop could play the drums and he could play them very well. So here we are, a tent church. On the corner in the Seventh Ward in New Orleans, and you got a barely sober drummer playing the drums, leading worship and Pork Chop Head a great time. Pork Chop had such a great time. At the end of the worship service, he came down front and he told Hadley, I’ve accepted Jesus, I want to be baptized. And I want to join this here Methodist Church. a church that would accept me ain’t much of a church.
oh, God, I wish we were more like that church. Because you all know, you Pork Chop, there’s somebody in your life just like him or her that feels like they don’t belong. That feels like they’re not quite good enough, or uppity enough to walk in a church. and our calling as Christians is to throw open our arms wide and welcome everybody in the name of Jesus Christ. we don’t need to give sobriety tests, don’t need to give any kind of ethics test. We don’t need even give Orthodox test. We just need to say, come on. in the name of Jesus, Come on. unfortunately, the church at Laodicea is not that kind of church the church at Laodicea is one of those churches I wish just wouldn’t even in the New Testament. Don’t want to read about it. Don’t want to deal about it because Jesus Christ did not have a single good thing to say about this church. Nothing. not one thing he says you neither hot, you’re neither cold, you’re lukewarm. And the translators have cleaned up what Jesus said. So, because you’re lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I’m about to spit you out of my mouth. The Greek word is emetic. Emetic what you do when you’re hugging the porcelain urn. Jesus says to a church, you make me sick.
Jesus said that to a church. something is bad wrong with the church at Laodicea. Laodicea was in the crossroads of a couple of trading routes. They are a commercial crossroads and center. They are the center of banking and finance in that part of the Roman Empire. They’ve got so many resources and so much wealth that in 60 A.D. there was an earthquake in Laodicea that basically leveled the town. Rome said, hey, we’re going to send you some people to help rebuild, and we’re also going to send you money to help you rebuild. And Laodicea said, we don’t need it. We got this. Laodicea was the center of a textile industry. They were known for their wools and their dyes. If you had a tunic or if you had a robe or if you had something that was very colorful, it likely came from Laodicea.
And you wanted the people to know that you got it from Laodicea, Laodicea was also the center of medicine in that part of the world. They had a rudimentary medical center, and they were known for their eye and ear swabs. If you had an ear problem or eye problem, they made a little ointment. You put it in your eye, put it in your ear, you got all better. And they had a very large Jewish population. I told you all that to explain to you what Jesus will say to them later on. They are a self-reliant, self-sufficient church. They don’t need anyone or anything. They got this. the apostle Paul describes these people as he describes the last days. he says this in second, Timothy. you must understand this, that in the last days, distressing times will come for people, will be lovers of themselves. As lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhumane, implacable, slanderers, brutes, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to an outward form of godliness but denying its power. Paul said, avoid them. Well, it looks like they all launch themselves into the church at Laodicea.
And before we get to looking down our nose at the church at Laodicea if some church scholars have written that if the Holy Spirit left the church, we could still keep doing 95% of what we do in church life. And the problem tells us is that we’re doing it out of our own strength, out of our own smarts, out of we got this. We don’t need God imagine what would happen if God’s Spirit got a hold of us. You know, if the church spends all of its time trying to figure out how to be socially acceptable rather than opening the windows to the Holy Spirit and allowing God to warm the church up and fill the church with His power and spirit and the flame of His love. What would the church be like if we became a group of spirit filled followers of Jesus Christ who were full of the Holy Spirit? Who wanted nothing but what God wants? nothing but what God wants? If we said to God, we can’t rely on ourselves, we need you. John Wesley talked about his heart being strangely warmed at Aldersgate, and people talk about a warm and winsome faith. Well, the church at Laodicea wasn’t warm. They had cooled down so that and they’re not hot. They’re not cold like. Yeah, they just are lukewarm. It’s like when the ice in your iced tea melts. Yeah. Not real good, is it? That’s what we’ve got going on.
So, Jesus said, there’s some things you need to do to turn this around. He gives them three things. He said, do verse 18: Therefore, I counsel you buy from me gold, refined by fire so that you may be rich, and white robes to clothe you, to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen and salve to anoint your eyes that you may see. Jesus in essence is telling the church; I know your works. You’re poor because you have nothing with which to produce forgiveness. Your entry into the Kingdom of God. You’re nekkid because you have no clothes of righteousness in order to stand before God and you’re blind because you have no awareness of your spiritual poverty, you’re miserable, but you’re blind to your own misery. Jesus said there are things to do. You need the gold refined by fire. That’s an image of salvation. That’s an image of giving your life to Jesus Christ in a radical and wonderful way. It’s like the confirmation class Last Sunday. I told them in preparation for that, the most important question you will ever answer is Do you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and played your allegiance to His Kingdom? That’s why most important question. Do you want to become a Jesus follower? All else out of life derives out of the answer to that question.
But the writer John, inspired by the Spirit listening to Jesus goes on, you need the White Robes to clothe you and keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen. We in Methodism have never been a one and done kind of people. We in Methodism don’t talk a lot about being saved, because there’s something more important. We talk about scriptural holiness, we talk about sanctification, we talk about growing deeper in our relationship With Jesus Christ. I mean, brothers and sisters, if your faith is not grown since you were 15 years old, I doubt very much you’ve got a faith. that faith needs to mature, that faith needs to deepen. You need to grow more in the likeness of Jesus Christ. Are you looking more Christlike? Jesus encouraged the church to get these white robes of sanctification, and they need to get the eye salve. now what did I say about the church at Laodicea? They were the center of finance and banking. They didn’t need anything. They didn’t need the help of the Roman Empire. Yet Jesus said, I need you to buy refined gold from me.
That will save you. Laodicea is also the center of a textile industry. What did Jesus say? I need you to get these white robes of righteousness. And then what else? They’ve got a medical group that they’ve developed. And I say I’ve been an ear say of what does Jesus say? You need? You need the sand so you can see Jesus takes them exactly where they are in their cultural context and says, let me show you how to grow. Let me show you how to deepen your faith. Let me show you how to walk in holiness with me.
A self-satisfied church cannot be a gospel church the self-satisfied church cannot be a gospel church. Christ is always calling us deeper. Christ is always calling us to see our neighbor. And that’s what you heard Kyle announce. This TMS Global Group coming in to do a workshop with us about who is our neighbor and who are we neighbor to? and how do we present the gospel of Jesus Christ to our world? So, I’ll give you one of the answers to the survey questions, because some people have taken the survey and they quit taking it because they said, I don’t know the answer to these questions. Are you supporting a missionary? I don’t know. What ministries are you doing in Ruston? I don’t know. Well, I don’t know is an acceptable answer. So, I’ve just given you one of the answers you might use on the survey. Go ahead and be honest. If you don’t know, say I don’t know. part of the workshop group is going to be asking the tough questions of the church. And if we don’t know, that’s an honest, transparent answer, and they can work with us on finding out and correcting “I don’t know.”
I also said there was a large Jewish community in Laodicea. I grew up with this. I heard this every third or fourth Sunday. Got time for the invitation during church. Every head bowed; every eye closed. As we sing 400 verses of just as I am. if you don’t know Jesus, raise your hand. Or if you don’t know Jesus, raise your hand. Hey, everybody, raise your hand. Come down here and get saved, OK? Because Jesus is standing at the door and knocking, knocking. You need to hear Jesus knocking brothers and sisters.
Man, got to be Every time somebody knocked on the door at the house, I got jumped up. I thought it was Jesus but if you want to go look this up, it’s actually an Old Testament image. It comes from the Song of Solomon, the fifth chapter, the second through the six verses, and there’s no way I’m reading that passage of Scripture in church. So, you got to look it up. And if your teenager gets a hold of it, you got to explain it to your teenager. But what happens is the lover is knocking on the door of the beloved, and the beloved won’t come to the door and the lover leaves. Jesus Knocking on the door of a church is what he’s doing. Jesus knocking on the door of individual hearts; of Christian hearts. Not those who don’t know Christ, but Christian hearts wanting back in. Because sometimes we get so busy, and we get so overscheduled that we push Christ to the corner and we’re the ones that get challenged: Is your faith hot? Is it cold? Is it lukewarm? And Jesus is trying to come in to share a meal with us.
I will come in. I will eat with you, and you will eat with me.
It’s like this meal we’re about to share this morning. Christ invites us to dine with Him. the body of Christ, broken for you. The blood of Christ, shed for you. He invites you to come here just as you are. He welcomes you and he invites you to give him your heart. Wherever you’re at. he invites you to deepen your faith. To walk with him in a more authentic way and to be transformed.