“The greatest hindrance to the church today very well could be, operating the church apart from God. As a Christian culture, we’ve created methods of worship that allow very little of the Holy Spirit to actually participate. We’ve created a Christianity that looks for Gods promises and blessings without seeking Gods presence.” – David Platt
“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.” – Revelation 3:14-21
The people of Laodicea remind my so much of our Christian culture today. Most might not verbally say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing,” but do we really need to say it when our sins are laid bare before the Lord? When God knows our words even before they leave our tongues? We need not say anything, our actions say enough.
Scripture goes on to say ‘But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.’ Wretched is describing a person with severe side effects from a great, ongoing strain. When we look at this from a ministry stand point, are we becoming so self sufficient that we are not actually needing the Holy Spirit? A great way to see if this is currently you is to ask yourself, “Am I experiencing severe side effects from my ministry?” “Am I burnt out?” The truth is that God gives rest to the weary, and if you’re truly resting in Jehovah – Shalom, then you’ll soar on wings like eagles. You’ll run and not grow weary, walk and not be faint.
The website Biblehub describes the word pitiful as a person with, ‘arousing pity and in great need of mercy.’ If we are looking for the promises and blessings of God without seeking the presence of God, we are truly pitiful and in great need of mercy. If we can set the mood by lighting a few candles, playing the right song, saying the right words, looking the part, sticking to our schedule and our plans; we are then artificially creating a spiritual atmosphere. We are making it about us. When we do this, we are no longer doing any of it to please God, but men. We are then as people trying to lift ourselves above God. That is a truly pitiful sight.
Poor is the extreme opposite of rich. Biblehub goes on to describe poor as, ‘deeply destitute, or completely lacking resources.’ It is similar to being overly consumed with the riches and comforts that this world has to offer. Now remember, these are riches and comforts that never satisfy and always leave you wanting more. These riches and comforts can be all consuming and easily take the place of everything else in our lives.
Being spiritually blind can affect us both physically and mentally. Riches blind us to our own self reliance. We are commanded to rely solely on God. When we take our eyes off Christ, we first become short sighted. Shortly after we become short sighted, we then become blind to how dependent we are on possessions and wealth. Once this has started, we can easily become defensive or angry if conviction sets in.
Lastly, naked is referring to being ‘laid bare, open or stark naked.’ This suggests that we’re so self-reliant that we have a shameful nakedness about us. Nothing is ever hidden from Gods sight. Shortly after sinning we allow shame to settle in. This shame then causes us to try and hide from God, just as Adam and Eve did. We can do this in many subtle ways that then become a normal part of our everyday lives. Some examples are: stopping or slowing down our prayer lives and Bible reading, and refraining from giving our all during worship. This is all an attempt to hide from the Lord because we have invited shame into our lives.
We pray about the dying church, yet when it is growing and thriving, we stop. We stop praying and permit ministries that allow very little of the Holy Spirit to actually participate and grow the church without the presence of God.
“That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!”Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” – Mark 4:31-41
The church in America is in decline. Perhaps God is using the decline as the crashing waves and rushing winds. The very decline that is a result of us not fully trusting in God to calm the storm. Instead, we cling to what we’ve made Christianity to be; A Christianity that yearns for the approval and pleasure of everyone besides God. A church so willing to be comfortable, rather than trusting on the uncomfortable call of God to step out of the boat. WE are the cause for the decline of the church. WE stand in the way of the Holy Spirit, quenching Him in the process. WE water Him down so much that He turns us over to our sin. God uses all things for His glory. I truly believe He will use the decline of the church to bring us to our knees. To renew this wrenched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked church. To bring the revival that tarries from lack of prayer.
“A true believer can see more on his knees than others can see on their tiptoes.” – William MacDonald