The story of the church in Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-22) unfortunately mirrors God's understanding of a human trait that is pervasive, universal, destructive and evil. I believe it is the reason Jesus seems so upset and angry at the people of Laodicea. This trait is reflected on the playground where one boy lords over another saying "I am bigger, stronger or faster." It is found in the cafeteria as girls talk about who is prettier, more cunning, more popular or just better. It is found in corporate America and radical Islam alike as pecking orders are established for manipulative reasons. It is in India in the caste system and Brazil as luxury high-rise apartments look out on slums of unimaginable poverty. It is even found as street gang members one-up other members to establish superiority. You can call it what you like. Snobbery, elitism, prejudice ... but it lives in the back of all of our minds, trying to express itself in our daily lives.
A church in an affluent town tries to do just enough so that they can be looked at as "good." They believe they are rich and they are sure to dress for the part. They believe they are visionary and see their world clearly. They have all they need. "Church" is the thing to do and the place to be. They are "better than" those people who are not as blessed, not as rich, not as smart, not as socially adept, not as sharply dressed and not as connected. But Jesus says they are "poor, miserable, blind and naked." The good news here is 1) we can learn from this church (our faith must never be lukewarm or watered-down [v.16]), 2) we can realize God's love for even these snobby pretenders ("I discipline ... everyone I love" [v. 19]), 3) we can listen for Jesus knocking on our door so we can open it and let him in ("I stand at the door and knock" [v:20]) and 4) we can learn we can only get things of eternal value from God ("I advise you to buy from me!" [v. 18]). That is part of the good news.
The other part of the good news here is encouragement I get every week from you. I watch many of you immerse yourselves in the lives of people who are less fortunate than you. You don't seem to care where those people come from. You serve them, invite them into fellowship, laugh and cry with them and I believe you show them the Jesus who loves them through you (and God loves you dearly for loving those "other" people). New Jerusalem (the place God has made for His people) has been, is being and will be a place where you will gladly serve God and worship with fervor and favor. For Laodicea the door is closed and Jesus is asking them to open it so He can come in (v.20). For many of you, the opportunity to dine, fellowship and listen to Jesus is a daily blessing. New Jerusalem is challenging, uncomfortable, beautiful, real and true life with/in Christ! Randy