Wretched, Pitiful, Blind & Naked
There would be a far greater turning to the Lord if in the preaching of the Gospel the coming of the Lord were preached.” T. Austin Sparks.
Most of us know the preparation that’s put into company coming for a visit. We stock the refrigerator, clean the whole house from top to bottom, and then we anxiously await the time of their arrival. The great theologian T. Austin Sparks wrote: “There would be a far greater turning to the Lord if in the preaching of the Gospel the coming of the Lord were preached.” He’s right about that. Company is coming and we need to get ready.
In warning the Laodicean church of their unreadiness for his return, Jesus tells them, “For you say ‘I am rich; I have become wealthy and in need of nothing,’ and you don’t realize that you are wretched, pitiful, blind and naked.” Up until just a few months ago, this nation was boasting the same thing about its economy. Almost overnight, however, it is singing a different song and dancing to a different tune. Over the years, this nation has grown increasingly confident in the belief that it is rich, wealthy and in need of nothing; including God. But perhaps just as the Laodicean church, it has been wretched, pitiful, blind and naked all along and just didn’t realize it.
Much like the Laodicean church, our nation has grown rich in material possessions but hasn’t noticed itself steadily drifting away from the absence of God’s presence. T. Austin Sparks again writes, “God is holy and he has made holiness the moral condition of His universe. The holiness of God, the wrath of God, and the health of the creation are inseparably united.” The health of a nation depends on the holiness of that nation. That goes for the church as well. Jesus was being merciful in pointing out the condition of the Laodicean church’s heart to them; He wanted to give them time to repent. Maybe God is doing the same for both his church and our world today. Maybe he’s trying to awaken this whole world, as well as the lukewarm church, to the mistaken belief that it’s doing just fine without his presence.
The belief of the Laodicean church of themselves to be “in need of nothing” had caused its believers to become lukewarm in spirit. They had become neither cold nor hot in their commitment toward the holiness of the Lord. Much like many churches and believers today, they stood for nothing and accepted everything. T. Austin Sparks rightly observed that believers have “learned to live with unholiness and come to look upon it as the natural and expected thing.” This is the cause of the decline of morals in both the church and the world today. When sensitivity to the holiness of God does not exist, the fear of God does not exist. And as evident in both the lukewarm church and the world today, “the fear of God is no longer a deterrent when the fear of God is gone.” (Sparks).
Jesus cautions the Laodicean church, as well as us, that he will not settle for a lukewarm spirit. He tells us, “As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline.” Because he loves us, he will not leave us wretched, pitiful, blind and naked. He will not leave us blind to the spiritual condition of our heart. The uncommitted, indifferent, compromising Laodicean church and the world have much in common today; neither are prepared for the coming of the Lord. T. Austin Sparks further writes, “The decline of the knowledge of the holy has brought on our troubles. A rediscovery of the majesty of God will go a long way toward curing them.” Amen to that!
Author Vaneetha Rendall Risner (The Scars That Have Shaped Me) writes, “God sometimes permits what he hates to achieve what he loves.” We just might be witnessing the truth of that in our world today. But Lamentations 3:31 comforts, “For the Lord will not cast off forever: But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.” Luke 1:16 tells us, “And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Making ready a people prepared for the Lord is the goal of God’s heart for us, and we should make no mistake, he will permit what he hates to achieve what he loves in order to do so. He loves us way too much to leave us wretched, pitiful, blind and naked.
Jesus warned the Laodicean church, “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.” Jesus is coming again to claim his church, and whether we like to hear it or not, he will spew us out of his mouth like a lukewarm cup of coffee if we’re not ready when he returns. Company is coming! Are you ready?
(I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.)