Before We Leave Laodicea

There were some good words on this from Jacques Ellul; I’m going to edit them down but they are very much about what we face:
“Here I believe that finally in this last letter the central theme is hope…
It is in this epistle that we find the formula so often cited of the cold, the lukewarm, and the hot. I believe this is very simple: the lukewarm is the one who desires nothing, who does not feel any lack, any absence, who does not understand that there is anything missing, who does not aspire to anything and because of that does not hope for anything.

“The cold is the one to whom much is lacking and who knows it but who does not ask for anything, who is shut up in the consciousness of his failure. The hot is the one who moves and who acts. But these latter two aspects are aspects of hope.

“The lukewarm, who is satisfied with that which he is, is led to do nothing to change, since the actual situaton appears satisfactory to him. He then does not see his real situation before God….

“This church does not know her truth, does not know herself; this is the evangelical definition of hypocrisy (which is not a conscious lie.) And from the moment there is nothing to hope for, there is no longer anything to recieve… but the opposite of hypocrisy is hope…. Now, once more, when God pronounces judgement or makes the diagnosis known, he immediately appeals, counsels, exhorts… give up as the price of what God gives, your present riches. It is that which makes it possible for God to give the remedy for sight (to see yourself such as you are in truth), which is to say deliverence from hypocrisy and committment to the way of hope…

“If Jesus Christ is so harsh, so rigorous, it is to lead this church to lucidity, to awareness, and thereby to conversion (the change of orientation and meaning.) The severity of the Lord is the only means to produce hope….

“Although [Jesus] announces his disgust for the one who is lukewarm and hypocritical, he comes to this door in order to be received. It is not the church at the end of its faithful pilgrimage who ends at the door of Paradise guarded by St. Peter; it is Christ who comes to our door, and when he arrives our door is shut.”
So who opens that door? Certainly we’re afraid what might get in, if we leave it unlocked, in this neighborhood–but we also know that unlocking it is something we’ll need to do. Slowly our fingers unclench from the knob… It’s no credit to us, we’re so reluctant. And that’s perfectly all right.

For God’s will to be done, means to have what truly matters to us.


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