Study No. 152
And From the Laodicean Front . . .
There is good news and bad news. First, the good news: the Laodiceans have been identified. Now the bad news: I believe we are the Laodiceans - yes, you and I. "We have seen the enemy, and they are us."
We are Laodiceans in lifeboats. It's the middle of the night. Nothing but water and icebergs. Other lifeboats are floating off in the distance. We look up, and watch that grand ocean liner, that luxurious craft, the unsinkable ship, the Worldwide Church of God, begin to sink. Some of the passengers are vaulting over the railing into the brink. Some are just standing there on deck, not quite sure what to do. Others are having the time of their lives, eating, drinking, and whooping it up. Yet the stern rears up, the bow lowers, the stacks belch smoke, the propeller turns, and the whole wrenching mess shudders, moans, and disappears, sucking down everything around her. The ocean floor waits.
Some of us sit in our lifeboats, slap each other on the back, laugh, and say, "Whew, that was close! Now it's the place of safety, and into the Kingdom! We've got the Truth. We're Philadelphians!" Then a man, shaken, says, "Excuse me . . . fellows. There's something you ought to see." He holds up a life preserver with a name stenciled on it: "S.S. Laodicean."
We are not yet out of the water.
Laodiceanism is the present condition in the Church of God. It is the dominant attitude. Why? Because, secularly speaking, it is the era and attitude of late-twentieth century America, and all Israel. And we are the fruit of that society. Remember what the Laodicean says within himself? "I am rich, with everything I want; I don't need a thing! . . . (Revelation 3:17, Living Bible).
We don't have to be listed in Fortune Magazine to be rich. Most baby-boomer regular Americans are rich. (How many of us missed meals in the Great Depression, or feared for our freedom during World War II?) We have lived through the most prosperous period in recorded history! That's why Laodiceanism seems normal - even righteous - even in the Church! It's inescapable! It has infected people all around us. If you compare yourself to others, you may look good, when in reality you are in serious danger!
We are the Laodicean generation. We came of age in the 1960's, when the foundations of America - many of them Biblically-based - started shaking loose. We trust in, and worship, money. We act like we don't need God. Writer Tom Wolfe insightfully addresses this issue: "The economic boom that had begun in the middle of the Second World War surged through the decade of the Sixties without even a mild recession. [I am rich, with everything I want!] The flush times created a sense of immunity, and standards that had been in place for millennia were swept aside . . . [I don't need a thing!]" (Tom Wolfe, "Stalking the Billion-Footed Beast," Harper's, November 1989, p. 46).
We worship idols: "Any of the big historical events of the Sixties are overshadowed by what young people did. And they did it because they had money. For the first time in the history of man, young people had the money, the personal freedom, and the free time to build monuments and pleasure palaces to their own tastes," (Tom Wolfe, Rolling Stone, November 5th - December 10th, 1987, p. 217). Consider the following examples of modern-day equivalents of ancient Israel's idolatry: music and musical artists (teen idols), film and actors (screen idols), television and TV stars, sports and star athletes, fashions and models, fine homes, fine cars, fine food, status, pets, alcohol, drugs, sex.
We have cast off restraint:
"Manners and morals were the history of the Sixties. A hundred years from now when historians write about the 1960's in America . . . they won't write about it as the decade of the war in Vietnam or of space exploration or of political assassinations . . . but as the decade when manners and morals, styles of living, attitudes toward the world changed the country more crucially than any political events . . . changes were labeled, however clumsily, with such tags as 'the generation gap,' 'the counter culture,' . . . 'sexual permissiveness,' 'the death of God,' . . . the abandonment of proprieties, pieties, decorums connoted by 'go-go funds,' 'fast money' . . . . This whole side of American life . . . gushed forth when postwar American affluence finally blew the lid off . . ." (Tom Wolfe, The New Journalism, 1973, pp. 29-30).
Now, three decades later, at the end of the American Century, at the close of the Sixth Millennium of Man, our affluence deserts us. We are surely being sucked into the whirlpool of Great Tribulation - affliction, distress, and oppression "For there will be persecution such as the world has never before seen in all its history, and will never see again," Matthew 24:21, Living Bible. Jesus says, "Those whom I [dearly and tenderly] love, I tell their faults and convict and convince and reprove and chasten - [that is,] I discipline and instruct them. So be enthusiastic and in earnest and burning with zeal, and repent - changing your mind and attitude," (Revelation 3:19; Amplified Bible).
We need Jesus Christ to rescue us! He shouts, "Look! I have been standing at the door and I am constantly knocking" (Revelation 3:20 Living Bible). He's knocking on your door right now to wake you out of spiritual stupor. " . . . If anyone hears Me calling him and opens the door, I will come in and fellowship with him and he with Me," (Revelation 3:20; Living Bible). We can come out of Laodicea individually. We don't have to go down with the ship. We don't have to go down with the lifeboat. We don't have to go down alone. Whoever overcomes will be rescued, Revelation 3:21.
The Laodicean message is for you and me. Jesus shouts the seventh and final warning. The seventh and final warning! "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Revelation 3:22, NIV).