Somewhere in each letter we are urged to listen to or hear “what the Spirit says to the churches,” so particularly in Laodicea while sitting in the partially excavated ruins of an ancient theater, I tried to take time to listen. As I did, I was amazed by how much reason we have to be on fire for the Lord as opposed to our normal lukewarm response.
Apparently the church in Laodicea was lukewarm in its relationship to the Lord (Revelation 3), but because God loved them, he disciplined them and did so in ways they could understand because it related to their context. For example, ancient Laodicea was known for its lukewarm water that would literally cause people who were unfamiliar with it to vomit. It saw itself as rich and actually turned down aid from Rome after an earthquake. It was known for gold that was mined in the area, as well as for its fine black wool and for producing an eye salve, both of which were partly a function of the mineral rich lukewarm water. Looking at Revelation 3:14-22, you can see the Lord weave this local context into his letter to the church, and again, that fired me up.
Another thing that fired me up was seeing all the vineyards driving to Laodicea. Seeing people working those vineyards and burning the branches that had fallen or had been pruned off brought to mind John 15, which I commend to your reflection, but it also brought to mind Jesus’ words about a rich harvest.
I can’t imagine the volume of grapes produced by all the vineyards we saw and I can hardly imagine the potential harvest in this nation (Turkey) of some 83 million where 98 percent are Muslim. This should fire us up for the work of evangelism.
This all gets to my prayer for our D-Now students, who begin their time together tomorrow night. Billy Craig gave me this year’s D-Now shirt just before we headed out, and I wore it today. The front of the shirt has the Greek word for “Evangelism” or “The Gospel” or “Good News” on it, and my prayer is our D-Now students will not just accept the gospel but that they will proclaim it. My prayer, coming back to Laodicea, is that they will hear Jesus standing at the door of their hearts knocking and that they will open their hearts to him, eat with him and then nourished by him will go out and help bring in the huge harvest.
This is my prayer for all of us.