Striving to be the church of Philadelphia

Published 12:28 pm Monday, August 13, 2018

By Karen Y. Stevens

God seems to love symbolism, and it is riddled throughout the Bible. God used examples of things, so the people could relate to what He was talking about.

In Revelation 3:15, it talks about the church of Laodicea. The church of Laodicea boasted of great resources, but had a poor water supply. An excavation of the city’s terra cotta pipes revealed thick lime deposits, which suggest heavy contamination.

Laodiceans were required to bring in water via this terra cotta aqueduct, even though the water made available, was generally unsatisfactory because of its lukewarm temperature.

I read that in those days, their cities were located near cool water from underground springs, (like the Guadalupe river), and their hot water from things like the ones in Yellow Stone. Laodicea had neither of those. Jesus finds the church in Laodicea to be other than what he desires.

In Isa. 5:2–6, paraphrasing, He is telling the self-satisfied church in Laodicea: “I want water that will refresh Me, but you remind Me instead of the water you always complain about.”

I can relate to this temperature of water. A handful of my family, and I, went to Lake Conroe last week. We stayed in Walden, so we went to a park that had a leg of the lake you could swim in. The water was like tepid bath water. It was not refreshing at all. We choose to stay in the water though, because it was better than being out of the water. (Way too hot!)

I felt like we were settling like the Laodicean’s. I’m told it doesn’t hurt you, to drink “lime” in your water, but it doesn’t taste good either. (Hence Jesus’s reference to spitting them out of his mouth.) It also causes a “scale” build up. When I think of a “scale” build up, I think of closing yourself off, or a hardening of thoughts.

There is nothing worse than getting complacent.

Your so comfortable in that state, you have nothing to motivate you. You look at yourself as “not that bad”. And what’s sad, is we know when we slip into that state that we should get out, but we tell ourselves, “it won’t hurt to stay here just for a little while”.

What we should have done, is stayed steadfast in faith like the church of Philadelphia and kept God’s word and endured patiently. That’s how Revelation describes the church of Philadelphia.

Some commentators have noted that the churches are each invited to read the others’ mail.

This thought is implied clearly enough in the text of Revelation 2:29 – “Each church is called to hear “what the Spirit says to the churches” (note the plural).

This would have been somewhat embarrassing to members of the other churches addressed most harshly. I am sure they strived to do better and be more like the church of Philadelphia. The church of Philadelphia was not perfect, but we should read more about the church of Philadelphia, and strive to mimic their good behavior.

Karen Y. Stevens is founder of Orange County Christian Writers Guild