28 Feb 16
Series - House on Fire! Part 5 -
You Do not Realize…
This is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching in this series is discussed outside the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.
The Big Idea this week: "Insight into God leads to Trust; insight into ourselves leads to Humility".
I started Revelation and reading the 7 letters with a bad attitude, but, at least partly, came round. I started to see them as short stories – which I like – since they seemed to fit everything necessary into a short space. They have an economy of words, fitting all their theology into a few verses.
Insight in medicine is defined as “having a correct attitude towards morbid change in oneself”. If you have a stroke, you don't at first have full insight; it's only little by little that you live into your new self and its deficits, and fully understand and appreciate. “I realize I can’t quite play the guitar like I used to” or “I notice certain words are hard to say when I get tired.”
What about the opposite? What about having insight into something great and faultless? If the Laodiceans had had full insight into the 3 attributes of Christ listed at the beginning of this letter, they would have trusted Him; they wouldn't have remained complacent, half-hearted, and lukewarm. He is the Amen, the true and faithful witness, and the starting point of God's creation. These attributes emphasize Jesus' role in creation and his work on the cross – in the past.
At the end of the letter, there is a startling promise for the Christians who "overcome" or conquer: to sit with Christ on His throne – in the future. If the Laodiceans had had insight into the future triumph of Jesus, they could hardly have remained complacent either. Once again, insight would have led to trust.
In between the introduction and the conclusion, we have the body of the letter. Here Jesus tells us that insight into who God is, is not enough. We need insight into who we are as well. Remember the stroke example? You need to know your deficits. And this insight into ourselves leads not to trust, but to humility. "For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, but you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked."
Often non-Christians believe in the same ethics as Christians. Or, Christians themselves are on different sides of ethical debates. What then are Christian ethics? What's so important about the Christian religion? The one piece of Christian ethics that hasn't caught on with society-at-large over the last 2000 years is humility. And this letter hinges on those words, "but you do not realize..." They did not have insight into themselves. No insight, no humility.
The Laodiceans weren't rebuked for any specific theological heresy. They were probably good citizens, well-off, upstanding, and ethical. How were they distinguished from others? They probably weren't.
We must be distinguished not merely by "adherence to moralistic norms but a life lived in view of the Christ event in the past and the victory of God in the future". If we had insight into what God is up to past and future, we would be a people trusting in God; if we had insight into who we are, we would be a humble people.
And trusting God while practising humility is a known cure for lukewarmness.
Check out http://bethelkingston.com/unleashed and be sure to come to Unleashed, today (February 28th) at 4 pm in the Upper Room.