Revelation 3:14-22

“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the origin of God’s creation: “I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth. For you say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.’ You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich; and white robes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen; and salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. I reprove and discipline those whom I love. Be earnest, therefore, and repent. 

Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me. To the one who conquers I will give a place with me on my throne, just as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.” Revelation 3:14-22

During the summer between my 6th and 7th grades my mom decided that it was time for our family to start going to church. She picked a white wooden old timey looking church building in the middle of the town. It was so like her. She wouldn’t have set foot in the big brick churches. So off we went.

It wasn’t our first experience with church. We had gone plenty of times along the way. But we never joined a church. When I asked my mom once why we didn’t become members, she told me that they didn’t want any divorced women. Was that right? Did she make that up? I was a kid. I didn’t ask those questions. I just believed her.

But the thought was firmly planted in my mind – there are certain people that the church doesn’t want. Our family was included in those people.

So we started going to church. Seriously. My mom jumped in with both feet. Worship and Sunday School on Sunday mornings. Prayer meeting and choir practice (which was pretty cool in that the choir was made up of families) on Sunday nights. Prayer meeting again on Wednesday. I signed up for Bible camp in the summer. We were in like Flynn. We had joined the club.

That was the first place I heard the Bible verses for today. About the letter to the lukewarm Laodiceans. We were NOT supposed to be like them! And it was the first time I heard the story of Jesus knocking at the door. We were told that was meant for us. We needed to open the door of our hearts and let Jesus in. Then we would get to go to heaven. The ultimate insiders! But if we kept that door locked, if we ignored his knocking, well, no heaven for us. All we would get would be H-E-double toothpicks. For eternity. And it would be awful.

So I opened that door as often as I could. I opened it in my bed at night. I opened it when the pastor preached on Sunday. I opened it several times a day when Bible camp came rolling around. I should have just propped it open because Jesus never seemed to cross the threshold.

We stopped going to that church after a year and a half. It didn’t end well. My mom felt rejected by the church when her life took a troubling turn. So we started going to the Methodist church that the farmer I worked for attended. They didn’t ask any embarrassing questions. They didn’t reject us. They also didn’t scare me. In fact, the pastor knew I needed money so he asked if I would start mowing his lawn and shoveling his walk. A realtor from the church became my confirmation sponsor and loaned me a tie for the occasion. He loaned me another tie when I needed one in high school. A lawyer from the church was there for me at a horrible time in my senior year and he ended up hosting my graduation party.

Part of the reason I probably became a pastor is because I care about people worried that God won’t accept them. I’ve come to believe that the problem isn’t that people won’t let Jesus in, it is that too many churches want to keep Jesus all to themselves, safely locked behind the door of their traditions, their prejudices, and their club. God wants better from us.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, forgive us for forgetting the power of your love which flows through us in such simple gestures as helping kids, welcoming single mothers, caring about the neglected, the marginalized, the forgotten. May that love fuel our passion to be loving. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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3 Responses to “Revelation 3:14-22”

  1. Marlys Says:

    Thank you, this is so extraordinary. Your testimony so up front and personal. May Jesus help us all to accept and love one another unconditionally.

  2. Dave Aemstrong Says:

    AMEN!!!!

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Your devotions are always helpful, but I especially enjoy reading about your personal experiences. Thank you.

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