How Can we avoid complacency?
Last time we discovered that due to its “richy” attitude, the church of Laodicea was complacent. In becoming completely indifferent, it lost its sense of purpose. The “me first” attitude is truly deadly, for it results in members completely losing their impact on their society. They had become utterly useless, lukewarm to anyone’s taste. Yuck!
But what can be done if we find ourselves in such a church? Is there any hope?
Out Father is a God of hope after all, and He cares, even for those who have lost their way. His advice to the Laodiceans: “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich…” (Rev 3:18a, NIV2)
Wait a minute! Isn’t this church abundantly rich? Or at least rich in attitude? It may be so by human’s standards, but not according to God our Father.
What does it mean, then? Do they truly need more gold?
“Therefore this is what the LORD Almighty says: “See, I will refine and test them, for what else can I do because of the sin of my people?” (Jer 9:7, NIV2)
The gold they are urged to buy must be refined by God’s own Spirit. Only through His Spirit can these Laodiceans become alive again, just as when Adam was first created. Only through Him can we obtain our focus again, only through Him can we let go of the garments of sin that seems to stick to us like glue, and complacency is a part of this.
“I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.’ “” (Zech 13:9, NIV2)
The refining through God’s Spirit may not be pleasant for most, but in the end it will drive us closer to God than ever before. Gone is the rich attitude. Now we bathe in the presence of God and worship Him fully. We have found our purpose once again!
“Do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Rom 8:4b, NIV2)
God’s Holy Spirit will always guide us in the right direction, always confirming us through His Word, the Bible (See John 16:3). His influence refreshes us and fills us with a love so amazing that we can’t help but love others genuinely. His fruit is from above, and it can be seen within those who listen to Him (See Gal 5:22).
A church without our Father’s Spirit is a dead church. Even if the building is beautiful, it is worthless. However, anyone following the guidance of our Father’s Spirit will shine like never before. They are the ones who are refreshing to those who are thirsty for God. They give a warm welcome to those who are looking for our Father. They are the ones who are truly in love with our Lord and Master, Jesus the Christ.
There is always hope with God’s Holy Spirit. He can transform each one of us into someone worthwhile, filled with love towards anyone we encounter, rich or poor, dejected or not. And once God’s Spirit lives in us, our wardrobe changes radically: “Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete.” (Colossians 3:10, MSG) We have been reborn!
This is why God urges the Laodiceans to buy “. . . White clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.” (Rev 3:18b, NIV2)
You see, once we are dressed by God, something subliminal happens: “They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Rev 7:14b, NIV2) In other words, we are completely forgiven by our Dad in heaven, as we have fully accepted Jesus as our Messiah. Our Savior has become real to us, so much so that we follow in His very steps.
In addition, the “salve” is put on our eyes so we can see. Our rich attitude had completely blinded us. We can finally truly see, the way we were meant to see. Now we can truly savor what Jesus has done for each one of us: “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death- even death on a cross!” (Phil 2:6-8, NIV2)
Our interim pastor, Pastor Frank, shared with us that when he was young, he lived a wild life, so much so that when he became a Christian, none of his friends believed him. They kept on mocking him: “You, a Christian? Come on! Who do you think you are?”
One day he went to a Christian Conference. Once there, someone recognized him and mocked him. Frank’s heart was not in the worship service that day. Was it possible that he was a fake? How could he truly be a Christian after everything that he had done?
One of the worship leaders, encouraged by God’s Holy Spirit, noticed this young man. He was encouraged by that very Spirit to bring that same young man a Bible text. With his Bible in his hand, he left the platform and handed it to Frank: “Read this!”
As Frank looked down to the text he was given, he was amazed. He read: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1-4, NIV)
No condemnation! His heart started to beat faster and faster, and before he knew it, he was worshipping God like never before. That day he had made a friendship that would last forever. He eventually became a powerful pastor.
These so-called friends had a “richy” attitude. Instead of hope, they brought condemnation. They were lukewarm. The worship leader, however, followed the lead of God’s Holy Spirit, and he succeeded in bringing life to Frank, leading him to the very doorsteps of heaven.
We can linger in our “richy” attitude, but it will lead us nowhere. May we hunger to be revived by God’s Holy Spirit and follow His guidance in whatever we do. Only then can we say goodbye to complacency forever.
Who do you want to be?
(To access the entire, “A Study on the Seven Churches of Revelation” devotional series, please click here.)