Jesus’ striking comment was not an invitation to unbelievers, but to a church in Laodicea. It is an invitation to every Christian who has misplaced a living fellowship with Christ amidst our culture’s desperate search for security and success. Believers are no less vulnerable to this kind of disorientation now than we were in the first century.
The America of 2020 seeks identity and direction from political figures who address genuine concerns with social perspectives so one-sided that they only succeed in canceling each other. Polarizing opinion-shapers use the same sort of brazen claims and calamitous warnings that have sold snake oil for generations. The truth is that the world is not appreciably better or worse than it has been since our first parents were exiled from God’s presence. Need and hurt are still everywhere. Divine judgment still approaches. Yet Americans by the millions line up every day for another ration of fire water from their favorite right or left media sources.
Consuming this stuff in quantity corrodes ulcers of idolatry even among Christians. It substitutes God’s glory and revealed truth for impoverished worldviews that justify sin, offer false redemption, and leech out the gospel as it burns through our system.
What are the signs that we might be struggling with the idolatry of our day?
Self-righteousness. The obsessive tendency to defend our point of view. Satisfaction with “being right,” with no corresponding motivation to tangibly love anyone.
Alienation. Constant negative talk about groups of people we view as almost sub-human. Cringing when they seem to win, rejoicing when they seem to lose. Love for them no longer relevant.
Fear. Anxiety about our well-being. Anxiety about the future. Persistent worry that the wrong people are in control, or no one is in control.
These are signs of idolatry, to be expected and pitied in people who do not know Christ. But when believers in our sovereign Lord and merciful Savior find such things running wild inside, we need to realize that Jesus is on the outside, knocking to come back in.
How do we open the door?
Focus on what is eternally real.
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.Luke 21:33
Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.Philippians 4:8 (please pause and read this verse carefully)
If we want to train our minds to think, our hearts to feel and our feet to move, let’s stop giving so much attention to poor examples. Let’s instead consciously imitate Jesus Christ in every thought, every word, and every action. This world needs him to live in its midst through us.
Remember our calling
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.1 Peter 2:9
The chosen race is not found on only one side of dividing lines we create; it is people who differ in lots of ways, but choose to find our deepest identity in Jesus. The pandemic can’t lay off the royal priesthood from our primary employment, which is worship. The holy nation and people for God’s own possession is not America; it is the Church. Make the Church Great Again and Build the Church Back Better. Let’s show and tell how Christ called us out of darkness into his marvelous light—for each other and for those who do not yet know him, let’s do that at least once every single day. This is our calling.
Listen … someone is at the door.
“If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”Revelation 3:20