(Thirteenth of our articles on the Seven Churches of Asia Minor. Revelation 1-3)
“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write: ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the beginning of the creation of God: ‘I know your works….'” (Revelation 3:14ff).
Pastor Jim Phillips (North Greenwood Baptist Church, Greenwood, MS) was telling the congregation last Sunday night about his ordination into the ministry over 30 years back. As he knelt for the laying on of hands–an interminable period when deacons and ministers slowly file by, placing hands atop his head and whispering words of challenge, encouragement or a prayer–finally, it was Pastor Frank Pollard’s turn. He whispered words Jim would never forget: “I’m the last; you can get up now.”
Not exactly what he’d been expecting.
Laodicea is the last. The final stop on our tour of seven interesting churches of the western half of present-day Turkey.
You can get up now.
Certainly the first of the seven churches–Ephesus which had lost its first love–and the last–Laodicea, lukewarm and repulsive to the Lord–are the most unforgettable. And probably the two most like ourselves and our own churches. So many of our churches today imitate Ephesus and go about their work routinely and robotically, forgetting to love one another, while others imitate Laodicea in being neither fervent nor frigid but somewhere in the sickening in-between. The Lord is neither impressed nor amused.
We’re told Antiochus II founded the city and named it for his wife Laodice. It had much going for it:
–It was a rich city, the center of banking for the surrounding region.
–It was a manufacturing center noted for the quality of its black wool.
–It was a medical center. The local medical school produced an eye salve much in demand.
Three Roman roads converged there. And when an earthquake devastated the city, the fathers rejected Rome’s offer to fund the rebuilding and and took care of it themselves. There was also a large Jewish population here.