Sardis or Laodicea?

Posted on November 20, 2011 by


I was writing up something this morning and reviewing the churches in the book of the Revelation and something caught my eye.  I know that they’re “supposed” to be a somewhat chronological account of the churches throughout Christendom, but … it’s obvious it’s not quite chronological, as the persecuted church in, say, China, is certainly not Laodicean in the least, whereas our Western church is rife with Laodiceanness.  (1)Or is it?*I* am the WORST EVER for calling our church Laodicea (not my home church, it rocks, I mean the “western protestant church as a whole”).   But I think I’ve been wrong.

Revelation 3:1-6 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write: These things saith he that hath the seven spirits of God, and the seven stars.  I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.  Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die; for I have not found thy works perfect before God.  Remember, therefore, how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent.  If, therefore, thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.  Thou hast a few names even in Sardis that have not defiled their garments, and they shall walk with me in white; for they are worthy.  He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

 I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

Um.  Well THAT’s us, right enough.  Have a name that we live, but we’re really dead inside?  How many “churches” does that describe.  (flinch)

Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die

Again – we are in the time of watching intensely for our Lord’s return.  And I think that most of us who are educated Christians are trying HARD to strengthen what remains… “ready to die” … again, that really describes what I’ve been seeing.  Does anyone else feel a bit like fixing the western church (making it what it was, say, in 1898) is like bailing with a bucket with holes?  We change and go on, or we die.  We won’t stay Sardis forever.

If, therefore, thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee

So many of my brethren are heads in the sand about the imminent return of our Savior – but what does it serve to be excited except to get us out in the fields, working hard to spread the gospel?  I never really do comprehend any attitude but my own here – I don’t want my friends left behind.  If they MUST be left behind, I want them convicted by my disappearance.  If they don’t notice ME gone, I’d like them to start shivering in their boots when the sacrifices get back to Jerusalem, and the water turns to blood, and… I want them informed!  The extreme imminence motivates me.  If I know you, and you are not in a personal relationship with Christ, I am going to pester you about it.  Deal. I love you.  It would be a lousy and false friendship to not care about your eternity.

Now, this is what God has to say about Laodicea:

Revelation 3: 14-22 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 of God.  I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot; I would thou wert cold or hot.  So, then, because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.  Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing, and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.  I counsel of thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thy eyes with salve, that thou mayest see.  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; be zealous, therefore, and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.  To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

I am thinking (this is ME, not the various interpreters) that the church of Laodicea could be compared to the dying Mainline churches and somewhat to the church as it goes into the Tribulation.  We know that there will be some saved during the Tribulation (2) – and that will definitely be a trial by fire.  White raiment is often described as what martyrs are given to wear.  I’m definitely not saying that Laodicea is not part of the church as it exists today – far from it.  I am saying that I believe that we have both Laodicea and Sardis extant in the West today.  Sardis is going to get raptured (3) out and Laodicea left to burn – or to change.  Sadly, I think that most true Laodiceans would rather burn than admit that they were wrong.

(1)  This would be Protestant, particularly fundamentalist/evangelical Protestant eschatology.  The seven churches of Revelation are often considered to be both the real churches of John’s time, and as metaphorical churches throughout the timeline of Christendom.

(2)  At the time that I wrote this essay, I believed that “we know” was accurate.  At this point, I’ve heard competing theories, that the time of Tribulation will *not* involve salvation… I *hate* that theory, but I don’t feel like I can say, “know” now, it’s “believe” or “have faith” instead.

Posted in: Religion