|In a Times Square, NY subway station|
Have you ever pictured Jesus as a graffiti artist? I was surfing the 'net images of pillars painted with street art and the work is amazing. Then I came across the one above. Nothing like the spray can Picassos that surely must have taken days to produce. This artist was done in about 37 seconds. And unlike the other municipal masterpieces, this one got me thinking about the Lord and Revelation. Today's verses include the last two letters Jesus dictated to John, one for the church at Philadelphia and one for the folks at Laodicea. I think we can use the pillar motif to tie the two together.
The Philadelphian letter is unique among the seven, because Jesus doesn't identify any sin in this church. He says that they have "little strength" and probably this means strength of numbers or of social influence. These would not be moral or spiritual shortcomings, so this church stands alone as the one Christ does not have to rebuke. They have actually shown their strength of character in persevering in the faith. Jesus says He will make their enemies bow down to them (Jesus is going to flex HIS strength on their behalf!) and make the enemy acknowledge that God loves the Philadelphians. If this little church continues to overcome and hold up under trial, Jesus is going to install them as pillars in the eternal temple of God! And He will write on them. I wonder if He will use spray paint, or a Sharpie marker? Maybe they'll look like the pillar at the Times Square train station.
The Laodicean letter stands in stark contrast to the former. Jesus rebukes them; calls them to repent. He attempts to shake them out of their blindness, their denial. "you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked" "I am about to spit you out of my mouth" Whoa! Jesus means business. How did this community of believers get so far from what they ought to be. Yes - FAR is the answer. Jesus calls them lukewarm. The city of Laodicea was famous for a lot of cool stuff, but they were also known for their lousy water. It was famously lukewarm. The pillars of Laodicea were the ones that held up the aqueduct, and man was that ever a long aqueduct. By the time the water ran down from a remote southern source, it was wretched. Nauseating.
Being far from the source is the key to comprehension here. The Laodiceans had gotten into their self-deceived, adverse position with Christ because they had wandered off. They were far from intimate with their God. They did not hold Him near. Perhaps they would hold up under His discipline. It was a loving discipline. "I'm knocking at your door. Let Me in and we'll dine together!" "If you'll repent and overcome, I'll sit you on my throne beside Me."
Are you of little 'strength' in this world, but mighty in Christian character? Then you are a pillar of the Lord. Are you self-sufficient, self-satisfied and so, have wandered away from God? Pride and possessions can insulate us from intimacy with Him if we're not careful.
One appeared weak, but they were wonderful. The other appeared powerful, but they were pitiful. Christ saw them aright, and named them accurately. I think I'll let Jesus label me; with Krylon, Sharpie, whatever ...
Pray: Hold me up and hold me close, Lord. I don't want to get discouraged in the fight of faith, and I don't want to get self-deceived that I'm all that in You. help me to estimate myself accurately. I want to be an overcomer.