I have mentioned before that many COG interpretations of the Church at Laodicea in Rev 3 are somewhat off-base. Many speak of lukewarmness in terms of zeal, particularly as towards zeal to preach the Gospel. However, that is not what Christ is talking about.
As I’ve mentioned in the “Temperature at Laodicea”, Christ also talks about love growing cold, and I argued in that article that the Laodiceans have lost some of their love (another theme that runs through the messages to the churches). Yes, zeal is important, and certainly preaching the Gospel is important. However, they are outgrowths of love. And, as we know from 1Co 13, whatever we do must be motivated by love or it is of no profit to us.
Instead of love, Laodicea display pride and selfishness.
17Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: (Revelation 3:17, King James Version)
Some COGs are like this. They feel they have need of nothing. They believe they are rich in the truth, full of doctrine, prophets, apostles, places of safety and have need of nothing. But, they don’t realize that they are lacking in love, humility and a servant attitude. Some are actually spiritually blind, and instead of wearing the white linen of righteousness, they are naked.
Twice now in the past week, I caught a couple of preachers on the radio speaking about the Church at Laodicea. In both cases, the gentlemen made the comment that the enemy was inside of the Church. It wasn’t from outside persecution, but the attitude of selfishness and materialism were attacking it from within.
Can a church be its own worst enemy? Yes, I think it’s possible.
Indeed zeal is not the issue as incorrectly taught by too many. It is pride, vanity, complacency and hypocrisy, the same traits as the Pharisees. But, if Lao is the last era, then the entire COG community as a whole is spiritually blind. You cannot carve out UCG or LCG, etc. Pointing fingers at what you think is a "worse" COG can easily indict you. Its up to the individual to anoint their eyes.
@Porky: Remember, "Laodicea" means "the people decide" or "the people judge". Judgmentalism is the one trait that ties all the attributes of selfishness, hypocrisy and lack of love and outgoing concern together into a lukewarm inwardly focused attitude. You are correct that it's up to the individual. Each must stand before Christ and give an account. Many of the leaders are the ones pointing the finger the most, so we have to avoid following their example if that's the case.
Love is important, but don't completely separate love from zeal for preaching the gospel and the Ezekiel warning to people who need to hear it. The people of the United States and many other nations need to hear a warning about what is to come if they don't repent, and anyone who lacks zeal for getting the truth out to these people simply lacks love for his neighbor.
@email@example.com: I think we are saying the same thing in different ways. My intent was not to severe zeal from love, but rather show that both zeal and preaching the Gospel "are outgrowths of love".
So many COGs quote the Scripture about zeal without knowledge, but have some replaced that with zeal without love?
I have seen various interpretations of what "Lao" means. Some say- 'the people judge or rule' or 'the people are judged'. As several commentaries will say- the meaning is somewhat elusive (unlike Philadelphia which clearly means brotherly love). In any event, it would be better to simply read what JC says of Lao vs. trying to figure out what the name means exactly. The problem is a false sense of spiritual health vs. the reality of being in extremely bad spiritual shape. Now, that can mean those who are like the Pharisees or it could mean those who are spiritually weak and lame. In both cases, the person cannot see they are in deep trouble and need to wake up and repent. Zeal is NOT necessarily the main problem. Pharisees had zeal but were blind. JC only says to zealously repent. Its interesting that whether a COG group has 1 man strict rule (like PCG and RCG), modified 1 man rule (LCG with an active counsel) or council/voting (UCG), all the groups are pretty much happy with themselves and tend to look down on the other groups (some more than others). I easily conclude that that all the COGs are the collective Lao Church and individuals need to anoint their eyes thru repentence.