The seventh and last church Jesus addresses in the book of Revelation is the church in Laodicea. The church appears to be the weakest and by far the most illegitimate of the seven, for Jesus has nothing positive to say and will in fact allude to the possibility that none of them may actually be saved. He will call them “lukewarm”, meaning they were indifferent to and ignorant of the gospel of grace, the good news that Creator God was murdered upon the cross for his chosen people. To this they would shrug and say they had no need of salvation for they had “prospered” and “needed nothing” (3:17), while at the same time affirming their belief in Jesus! They thought that they were good people who walked with an even better God, while not realizing that they were “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked” and that God is unapproachably holy. Ultimately, they failed to understand that their sin was central to the gospel of God, and in fact the very reason for the cross.
Sin, by definition, is a condition of direct rebellion to God and his revealed will. Sin is many times falsely isolated to snapshots in time of single actions (i.e. “I masturbated last night”) which largely ignores what sin truly is. Sin is far more of a disease, infecting everyone, contracted at birth and perpetuated by our decisions to remain in it. Sin is the condition of the soul that creates the chasm between you and God. That is why sin has to be central to the belief of the gospel, for in the cross Jesus bore our sin and removed the chasm that divides.
“Laodicea was ultimately a church that was lukewarm because they liked Jesus enough to acknowledge his name but didn’t love him enough to let him reveal their depravity.”
To the Laodiceans, Jesus offers “gold refined by fire” so that they may become truly rich. He offers them “white garments” so the shame of their nakedness might not be seen. And he offers them “salve to anoint (their) eyes” so that they may see their sin and know their need. He is offering them to hand in their false view of themselves in return for the work of himself upon the cross. This is the great exchange, his work for our sin. And he still offers that to us today.
Laodicea was ultimately a church that was lukewarm because they liked Jesus enough to acknowledge his name but didn’t love him enough to let him reveal their depravity. If only they were cold and outright rejected Jesus, for then they would have a shot at understanding the gospel and being saved. Or if only they were hot and responsive to the love of God in the cross of Jesus, for then they would have salvation! But they rejected both and became something else, something that in the end will be rejected.