In the Book of Revelation, God has the Disciple John write to the seven churches. Early in Christian studies, it was noted that there were many more than seven churches in the ancient world at the time the letters were written. Not long afterward it was discovered that the seven churches' messages described the overall condition of Christianity in certain periods. Without being a great scholar of historical ages of the church of Christ, I would nevertheless like to draw our attention to the last letter to be sent to the Christian church.
The letter is a description of the Christian churches in our times. We are living just prior to the Second Coming of Christ (see Matthew 24 for many of the signs of His approach). Therefore, the message sent to the Laodicean Church is how God describes the Christianity that most of us see in the modern world. He says Christians in the last days will predominately think they are rich and in need of nothing. We will be self-satisfied with our church experience and with the brand of Christianity we have chosen.
If someone comes to us and attempts to share something new, we may listen simply out of Christian courtesy, but we are just too skeptical, too self satisfied to give much heed to the message. Why should we listen to another point of view? We are Christians and know the Bible and we are active in our church. What else is there? We have need of nothing!
Really! Need of nothing, indeed. God says we are wretched and to be pitied. We are not rich, but poor. We don't see anything. We are blind. Notice that the Lord isn't talking to unconverted heathen or secular neighbors. He is directing His description straight at us. Not only are we poor and blind, but He says we are naked and should be ashamed. Without a breath, He continues by lovingly showing us our true state. We aren't against Him, but neither are we completely for Him. We are kind of for Him and kind of against Him. We are lukewarm. We make Him want to vomit us out. Why?
If we are cold toward Him, all people could see clearly that we are empty and only concerned about ourselves and our own loved ones. If we are hot toward Him, all can see the benefits of living for Him and serving others. But because we are lukewarm, we send out mixed, confusing messages to those who would be led to the Savior.
This is the condition of general Christianity just before Christ returns. He recommends a course of action to us all. He tells us to buy gold from Him that has been refined in the fire and white garments so our nakedness can't be seen. Different thoughts have been shared about the symbolism of the gold, but the riches that come to mind for the author are the riches that come when we have faith in Christ. The gold has been tried in fires of affliction, that is, Jesus walked through the constant fires of temptation to be able to offer His perfect life to us as our right to Heaven. The white garments that He offers to cover our nakedness is His own righteousness. When we accept Christ, every single terrible sin we have ever committed as well as our innate sinful nature are completely covered by Jesus' perfection.
The problem comes when we allow our faith in Him to keep us from growing in our characters. Belief in Jesus isn't the end, it's the beginning of an exciting walk through life with Him. This walk is one in which we are always growing to know Him better, always falling and getting back up, forever failing and succeeding until we die or He comes back to get us. To others around us we appear no better sometimes than anyone else. But, hopefully, if we are observed over a long period of time, a difference will come to light. The One we follow will be seen in what we say and what we do.
Hot or cold? Which are we? God help us to decide to be completely hot for Him.