Acts 16:14 speaks of a woman named Lydia who was a “seller of purple” who responded to Paul’s preaching and offered to host Paul and his team in her home. Lydia’s gender, her being a “seller of purple,” and her means to be able to accommodate Paul and his band are significant to understanding the implications of this passage.
It is an indisputable fact that there are differences in giving habits between different generations. These differences are deep and not going away. If we expect giving in the ekklesia to continue along the line it has for the last fifty years, or even twenty years, we are seriously mistaken. We ignore these differences at our peril.
The city of Laodicea was founded around 260 BC, in the Lycus River valley in what is now Turkey. It was a bustling city known for its great wealth from medicine, textiles/wool and finance. Laodicea was so wealthy that when it suffered a major earthquake in 60 AD, they refused the support of the Empire and financed their own rebuild.
Laodicea had it all – except water. So they constructed two aqueducts. One sourced from the cold mountain water of Colossae, and the other flowed from the hot springs of Hierapolis. However, by the time the cold fresh mountain water from Colossae and the hot, healing waters from Hierapolis flowed through the aqueducts, the water had become lukewarm. This provides some context for the images that John writes concerning the Laodicean Church in Revelation 3:14-22.
The Spirit of the Lord challenges the citizens of Laodicea on their self-sufficiency stemming from their wealth. They think they are rich because of their finance, textile and eye medicine, but the Lord sees them as blind, bankrupt, and threadbare. We also find this strong statement: I wish you were hot or cold but because you are lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth!
The image of cold speaks of the refreshing that cold mountain water brings. Likewise, hot speaks of the healing, therapeutic aspect of the hot springs. They are neither refreshing or therapeutic – they are lukewarm. The religious elite of Jesus’ day had some lofty thoughts about God, they knew the scriptures well and lived with moral excellence. They had become comfortable, all about their traditions, interpretations, practices and knowledge but missed the very Messiah they had been anticipating. In spite of their religious prosperity, they were neither refreshing to others (cold) nor were they healing and comforting (hot).
Laodicea: What could this mean for us as a church today?
What if lukewarm is where we are no longer refreshing to others, or no longer healing and a comfort to folks? Is this the same as salt losing its saltiness? Could it be that sometimes despite all our great doctrines, practices and traditions we have subtly lost sight of Jesus and His mission? The place where to love God and love others as Jesus loves us becomes a mere platitude or a sappy sentiment? To do so is to be lukewarm.
I am not diminishing the importance of healthy theology or healthy practice, but they are not an end unto themselves. They posture us towards Someone and something greater – Jesus and His mission. This posture helps free us from the trap of self-righteousness that is often so darn intoxicating and yet makes us so lukewarm. Like the Church in Laodicea, we are invited deeper into a relationship with King Jesus. It is here that we discover what it means to buy gold refined in the fire, to be clothed in the garment of Heaven, and to buy medicine for our eyes so that we might see, really see! This is to be hot and therapeutic or cold and refreshing for a world that longs for good news that is actually Good News!
Copyright 2014, Michael Rose. Michael is a spiritual director and the author of Becoming Love, Avoiding Common Forms of Christian Insanity.
His passion is to help others to learn to live loved and live lives of love. He blogs at IamSignificant.ca
City church is a concept/belief that only one church legitimately exists in a any city, and that it should be overseen by elders of the city, who then submit to regional apostles (overseers, bishops, superintendents–whatever your tradition calls the greater function.). The idea and its variants are prevalent in many so-called apostolic and prophetic groups and communions today, though not confined to those groups. It’s proposed that God wants to restore governmental order to the church under geographic delineations so it can fulfill its destiny in unity. Some consider the concept an essential for the realization of John 17 unity. In this lengthier (apologies in advance) than normal blog, I present twelve considerations or challenges to this idea. I am endeavoring to explore the implications, motives, and pitfalls inherent with the idea. I hope to make the case that relationships, not geography, nor hierarchy, establish spiritual authority and spiritual jurisdictions.
The term “anointing” is as prevalent in Pentecostal/Charismatic circles (hereafter abbreviated: P/C, and representative of all subsets thereof) as salt in the ocean. Considering how little the new covenant scripture mentions it, it seems like too much has been made of too little. In some places, the alleged “anointing” has become a fetish, a golden calf: our worship services exist to facilitate someone’s idea of what the anointing is, rather than to honor the person of Jesus.
The leaders of the 1948 Latter Rain Movement taught that part of God’s restoration scheme for the church was the restoration of Davidic protocols of praise and worship. It was believed this was an integral part of God’s overall equipping of the church to reach its ultimate purpose. David’s life as a Psalmist and his relationship and interaction with the manifest presence of God (the ark of the Covenant, the Holy of Holies, Mt. Zion, etc.), were presented as the pattern for all subsequent generations of believers, in a restored truth sense. How did the apostles interpret and apply the “restoration” of David’s tabernacle (tent)?
Much modern praise and worship has drifted from sound New Covenant understanding into regressive and manipulative Old Covenant paradigms, paganism, neo-Gnosticism, and New Age beliefs that pander to our culture’s addictive need to be stimulated and entertained. We need to reorient what we believe and do, to the realities of the gospel.
If in an inferior covenant, God was willing to forgive Sodom and Gomorrah if just 10 righteous people could be found (not even trying, not even praying) why do we think we need 10,000 “prophetic intercessors” in a nation’s capital, or 100,000 people in an arena to beg, groan, and wail for revival in an era of a better covenant, based on better promises? If the cross indicates that God works through weakness, and if God’s work is done by neither might nor power, but by His spirit, if Gideon won with a few, why do we spend countless hours trying to amass numbers, size, and success? It is just unbelief saturated anti-gospel carnal drive for significance and money veneered with a 2 Chr. 7:14 proof text.
This third installment in this series examines the question of what will it really take to allegedly satisfy God so He “releases” revival to us based on meeting the conditions of the alleged promises of 2 Chr. 7:14. Basing our theology and practices pursuing revival on 2 Chr. 7:14 is an exercise in futility. When is enough ever enough?
2 Chr 7:14 is used by many as the pillar verse for virtually every revival ministry. The problem is, our definition and expectations of revival are often strongly influenced by our non-New Covenant thinking and theology, our religious culture, our political and social culture, and unresolved ego issues. This second installment in this series examines the difference between old and new covenant promises as it relates to our understanding and application of 2 Chr. 7:14 and our expectations of revival.