A Message for the New Year
And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things
saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation
In our passage, He speaks to the Laodiceans. Most conservative scholars believe that these letters have significant value to the church today. John Phillips views these letters to the seven churches from three viewpoints: (1) practically, (2) perennially, and (3) prophetically. (Exploring Revelation, by John Phillips Moody Press, Chicago, IL) The prophetical viewpoint states that each church represents a different phase of church history. If this interpretation is true, then we are now living in the Laodicean church age. The message found in this passage deals with attitudes and situations that are prevalent in Christendom today.
Notice the problems that are listed with the Laodecians. The most glaring condition is that of lukewarmness. Christ says, "I would that thou wert cold or hot." Another problem was their complacency. They thought of themselves as rich but God saw them as "...wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." He gives them a choice between judgment and blessing, between chastening and grace.
In verse 20 we come to the passage of our study. It is amazing that Christ gives an invitation to His Church. Some have interpreted this verse as an invitation to the lost sinners who are in the local church but outside the grace of God. This is certainly a possibility. But I believe that this invitation is to believers. As we examine the state of Christendom today, we see a genuine lack of fellowship of believers with their Savior. The church is a place of communion with God; but the Laodicean church is too busy and too rich to be concerned with what they consider frivolous non-essentials.
Is this not where we are today? Look at the majority of churches and the majority of Christians today. We have everything but a daily walk of fellowship with our God. We have learned how to live the Christian life without an awareness of God's constant presence with us. We have relegated Jesus Christ to a subordinate position in our lives and He is standing and knocking, seeking entrance into our hidden places of the heart. It is midnight figuratively in this church age. We need His fellowship more now than ever before!
I believe that Christ's message to His people for this new year and new millennium can be found in verse 20. Christ asks for an invitation to our homes, our hearts, our consciousness. He seeks fellowship and communion with those He has purchased with His own blood. Let's examine this verse and see what His message is for us.
I. An Unbelievable Desire
I stand at the door and knock..." A knock at the door can
bring a variety of responses.
Can you see His Affection for us? He says "...Behold.." Look! The word means "to focus intently on." This is an unusual picture that Christ is painting here. He desires that we take special notice. The great God of Glory is taking the time to seek fellowship with one of His lowly creation! This is a personal invitation. He is not seeking us collectively, but individually! I think of Psalm 8:4, "...What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?" What great love He has for us to seek us for fellowship!
Can you see His Attitude toward us? He is standing and knocking. This denotes continual action. Many people will knock on someone's door for a few seconds and go away. The picture here is of Christ standing and continually knocking. Only someone who genuinely desires the company of another would subject themselves to such inattention. He must really love us to patiently wait for us to answer His knock.
II. An Unmannerly Delay
man hear my voice..." Can you hear the compassion
in these words? How can it be that God Himself stands at our door
and we ignore His knocks? My heart brings to mind the words of Christ
as He looks over Jerusalem, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem...how often would
I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens
under her wings, and ye would not!" (Mat. 23:37)
It is an Honor Extended. What an honor it is to have access to Him! What an honor it is that He is concerned about our lives, our decisions, our pains and heartaches! If a great athlete or world leader arrived at our door, we certainly would not keep them waiting and knocking. We would usher them in and ask how we could accommodate them. But Christ Himself seeks audience with us, and yet He waits and waits. A (semi-) famous actress is from my hometown. She left as a young woman to pursue her dreams as a model and later an actress. When she left, few noticed. But now when she occasionally returns, it is an event. Recently a street was named after her and she is asked to speak to various groups. Surely Christ has earned the respect and honor of His people. Surely we count it as an honor that He wants to commune with us!
There is a Hearing Required. There have been times people have knocked on my door and no one heard them. With four children and various commotion, a knock on the door could possibly be overlooked. If any man HEAR his voice... Not only is He knocking, but He is calling out our name! An abstract rap on the door may go unnoticed, but the voice of our Savior should never be overlooked. He said in the Gospel of John that His sheep hear His voice and follow Him. Are we listening for His voice? Are we following Him? To follow Christ is a divine unction and a command. We must be attuned to His voice and hear Him when He speaks.
III. An Unusual Delight
"...and open the door, I will come in to him..." Have you ever been visited unexpectedly by an old friend? What a joy it is when you open the door and see that your friend has chosen to visit you! Likewise, Christ stands ready to fellowship with His children in a deep and meaningful way if we will accept Him into our lives.
He offers His Fellowship. Paul knew of this special blessing of His fellowship,"That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings..." The Apostle John knew of it as well, "...truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." We all enjoy a postitional fellowship. It is available to us at all times if we come to Him with confession and humility. But there is a real and practical fellowship for those believers who choose to walk with Christ daily.
He offers his Friendship. Friendship between two people involves common interests and a special sharing between those people. Jesus told His disciples, Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. (John 15:13-15)
IV. An Unplanned Dinner
"...and will sup with him, and he with me..." Our suppers/dinners are times of good fellowship. We ask our friends to "join us for supper." The gospels are filled with illustrations from Christ of great suppers in which attendance was requested. He used the picture of a supper to illustrate the gospel and salvation. We learn of suppers which Jesus attended at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazerus. We read of what is referred to as the Last Supper, in which Jesus was betrayed. The supper in scripture is always a time of fellowship and communion. Christ promises us that if we answer His call, He will come and sup with us.
His Presence. What a privilege to have Christ sup with us. In this Laodicean age, Christ is legislated out of government and the schools. He is crowded out of many churches and is ignored in the hearts of most of His people. He desires our fellowship. His moment-by-moment presence is available if we want it. He is present with all of us all the time. But there is a special presence and awareness for those who desire it. He calls to us in this midnight of the church age to sup with Him.
His Purpose. Today many decisions are made over dinner. Business people use dinner as a time to make deals and communicate their positions. Christ's supper with His people can also be "working dinners." There is much heart-to-heart counseling that goes on between a believer and His Lord. It is impossible to describe how the Lord Jesus uses these times of special fellowship to enlighten and empower His people. He accomplishes His purpose in our lives by supping with us.
Dr. J. Culross has a wonderful story that is related in the The Biblical Illustrator. An old woman lived in a small cottage by the seashore. She had only one relative, a grown son who lived and worked at sea. He went for years without seeing her, never even dropping by to check on her in her old age. Rather than being hurt at his disrespect, she thought of him every day and dreamed of him at night. The sea winds spoke of him, as did the sunshine and the storms. The son dwelt in the heart of his mother and nothing could diminish her love for him. She died not seeing her son, but her love held firm.
Christ loves us infinitely more than the mother did her negligent son. A mother's love cannot compare with the love of our great God. But sadly, our neglect can compare with that of the son. We read the story quoted above and think, "How could a son be so mean?" But we do the same disservice to our Redeemer.
The year 2000
is upon us. The Laodicean church is at it's zenith. It is midnight
for the church age as God's elect look skyward for the return of Christ.
In the midst of this midnight, let us remember to sup with Him. His
fellowship and communion are most important in this new millennium.
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