Jan 10 13

A Christ-less Church

vmsmith

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)

Today in our scripture reading we end the third chapter of Revelation and the messages Christ gave to the seven churches of Asia. The last church on the list is the church of the Laodiceans which was a church in the worst condition of the seven. Some deny this was a true church but was rather a group of people much like many groups today that name Christ but do not have a true gospel or any semblance to New Testament Christianity. I believe this was still a church of Christ but it was barely hanging on by a thread and was in imminent danger of losing its status as true church.

This was a church that was mired in complacency. Some commentators have noted the method of address to this church as Christ calls it the church of Laodicea rather than the church in Laodicea. This means the church had taken on the characteristics of the surrounding culture and had become a church of the world rather than in the world. “Of the world” is a phrase often used by Jesus and the apostles to describe people that have lifestyles and practices of ungodliness. It characterizes the lost. However, true Christians have been called out of the world as Jesus says in John 15:19: “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” John wrote in his first epistle: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16). Although we must live in the world our lives should not be of the world.

Perhaps the most telling remark concerning the character of this church is the statement Jesus made in verse 20: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” Clearly, He was on the outside of this church. They carried on business as usual without the head and founder of the church. They carried on without His power and authority. They were self-sufficient and never called on Him for strength to do His work. Scripture teaches the only way we can work for Christ is by God’s power (2 Cor. 3:5). They were a self-sufficient church as evidenced by verse 17 in which they claimed to be “rich, increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” No wonder Jesus said, “I am on the outside. Hear my voice and let me in.”

This is the danger we face when we try to forge ahead with our own plans and do not stop to pray and ask God where He would have us go. As a church, we must be sure that we are not Christ-less. He must be on the inside of our church in the person of the Holy Spirit directing every move we make. As the hymn writer said in the old hymn Take Time to Be Holy: “Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul; each thought and each motive beneath His control; Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love, thou soon shall be fitted for service above.”

Jesus Christ is eager to be a part of our lives now and to prepare us for eternal service in heaven. We desire to be a part of this church as the author of Hebrews says: “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect…” (Hebrews 12:22-23). If Christ is outside of our church, we will be left outside of His church.

Pastor V. Mark Smith