The Church at Laodicea and the Minimalist Corner

As we explored your migration into the minimalist corner, Paula showed us something she found in the third chapter of the book of Revelation, that apocalyptic thriller which has the attention of our team. 

It is a letter from Jesus to the church in Laodicea, the last of a series of seven letters to seven churches.

But to get the full effect of this letter, you have to go back to Chapter 1, to get the back story of these letters. And as you read it, you’ll see that you are reading about the Actively Dynamic Protagonist on his quest. It’s all archplot!

So now consider in that context what John writes to the church at Laodicea in chapter 3. Notice how it begins in verse 14, as the Active Protagonist is introduced…

And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.

Revelation 3:14

And in the very next verse the description of the Laodiceans finds them in the minimalist corner of the story triangle…

I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot!

Revelation 3:15

Notice how that parallels this passage in the book of Zephaniah…

At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the men who are complacent, those who say in their hearts, ‘The Lord will not do good, nor will he do ill.’ Their goods shall be plundered, and their houses laid waste. Though they build houses, they shall not inhabit them; though they plant vineyards, they shall not drink wine from them.”

Zephaniah 1:12-13

And Jesus isn’t going to put up with that…

So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.

Revelation 3:16

And notice how he next describes the gap between what they say about themselves and what reality is…

For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

Revelation 3:17

And that sounds just like the success oriented American Christians who are occupying the minimalist corner. 

It’s fascinating how the minimalist corner blinds you to reality. What if this Chan man is on to something?…

We are going to look at how the Bible calls us to live our lives. It is important that we not measure our spiritual health by the people around us, who are pretty much like us. To begin this journey, we’ll first address our inaccurate view of God and, consequently, of ourselves. 

But before we look at what is wrong and address it, we need to understand something. The core problem isn’t the fact that we’re lukewarm, halfhearted, or stagnant Christians. The crux of it all is why we are this way, and it is because we have an inaccurate view of God. We see Him as a benevolent Being who is satisfied when people manage to fit Him into their lives in some small way. We forget that God never had an identity crisis. He knows that He’s great and deserves to be the center of our lives. Jesus came humbly as a servant, but He never begs us to give Him some small part of ourselves. He commands everything from His followers. 

Francis Chan, Crazy Love

And notice how the way out of the corner is dependent upon responding to Jesus, which seems to fit with the Quest he commanded you to pursue…

I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.

Revelation 3:18

And then he connects his severity to his love for them…

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.

Revelation 3:19

… which connects with this passage in Hebrews 12…

And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

Hebrews 12:5-6

Then Jesus invites them to respond to his relational initiative…

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. 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

And he follows that up with a promise right out of the archplot…

The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.

Revelation 3:21

And after that invitation, Jesus repeats the same vital and fascinating combination of invitation and risk assessment warning which is given in each of the seven letters…

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Revelation 3:22

And your Drollinger guy caught our attention again…


Jeremiah 22:21 informs the reader that Judah was a materially prosperous nation like America – but the prosperity served to buffer God’s intended impact of His messenger and His message.

I spoke to you in your prosperity; But you said, ‘I will not listen!’ This has been your practice from your youth, That you have not obeyed My voice.

Such is the case today in a vast number of American churches: Most everyone is just playing church, going through the motions. Why? Because in our materialistic prosperity there are very few in desperate need of God as their only solution! Few cry out to Him from physical and/or spiritual poverty! Few are America’s believers who have any needs today (that is revealed by the majority of prayer requests which are dominated by medically related needs). In the Book of Revelation, the Church of Laodicea serves as a facsimile of today’s American church. Note Rev. 3:14-17….

To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked….

The Church of Laodicea and the Church of America are parallels to ancient Judah, such similarities in attitude and condition in our country evidence a coming American earthquake – unfortunately the conditions exist for God to rock our nation.

The Book of Lamentations As It Applies to America, BY RALPH DROLLINGER, Capitol Ministries, MAY 1, 2014

So, Paula Wong showed us this and wondered if it reflects the danger of America’s Christians migrating into the minimalist corner…

The spreading scandals in the Roman Catholic Church provoke the question: could the church collapse? I worked as a management consultant to some of the largest companies and government entities in America for nearly 50 years, and served in the White House. I was a member of the church during that period and served on various church boards and councils. Bottom line: the institution of the U.S. church could collapse, suddenly and unexpectedly.

The problem is that the current scandals reflect corruption of clergy, leadership and the institution itself, going far beyond the sexual abuse alleged. The roots of the corruption were sown as the institution that evolved from a tribal guerrilla movement that the Roman empire co-opted, to a militant state, to an empire and, finally, to adapt to modern demands for specialization and efficiency, to a corporate institution. It has departments that handle communications, finance, product and product development, brand management, marketing, recruiting, training, and human relations. It also has legal, public relations and political arms that protect and defend its brand and the institution itself.

The problem is that, as it “corporatized” and specialized, it made the mistake of many companies — it began to focus on protecting the institution, rather than meeting the needs of the customer, in this case, the “faithful.”

House of card(inal)s, BY GRADY MEANS, The Hill, September 25, 2018

By the way, your book of Ephesians also caught our attention. And one of the things we are wondering about is the possibility that part of its purpose is to address a love crisis…

More than one-sixth of Paul’s references to “love” in his 13 epistles occur in Ephesians.

Dr. Thomas Constable, Notes on Ephesians

You see, that was very significant to our team when we came to see how the church in Ephesus was developing a loyal love/betrayal issue which threatened their very existence.

Notice the following warning from Jesus to them in the book of Revelation…

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.

“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.

Revelation 2:1-5

There is it – the binary core value of loyal love/betrayal.

So, we wonder if this Chan guy has your attention…

I want you to be challenged by God’s greatness and love. I want you to understand that the only sane response to His love is a wholehearted devotion to Jesus. And I want you to see that the crazy people in this world are those who experience God’s love and remain complacent, not those who let go of all they have and follow Him completely. 

Francis Chan, Crazy Love