While Jesus reminded them of the need to live the identity their name implied, we see the heart of the issue pulling them away from Christ was…
The Magnificent Mile (Revelation 3:17-18) 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. The people in Laodicea had a 1st century version of the Magnificent Mile—shops, fine clothes, and their pride and joy revolved around their medical advancements—the eye salve, the famous ear ointment, even a first century medical school. They seemingly have everything, but they are missing the one thing they actually need. Jesus contrasts their physical wealth with their spiritual poverty, their physical vision with their spiritual blindness. Their fullness had pushed Jesus to the fringes. Jesus invites the people to start shopping with him, in his booth, a booth that offers gold refined—not a nugget of lifeless metal, but a new life refined through testing, not the most expensive black clothes but the white robe of righteousness, not the costly eye medicine, but a radically uncovering of their blindness.
In fact, we can learn about sight from someone who is blind. Hopefully you had a chance to read the article that came in the Illinois Country Living magazine sponsored by the Coles-Moultrie Electric Cooperative about twenty year old Ashley Eisenmenger, from Tolono. Born at 27 weeks, 2 lbs., 1 ounce and legally blind—blindness was a way of life. What’s amazing is that in 2014, Ashley spurred on by a friend decided to take on a triathlon. Keep in mind a triathlon consists of swimming, biking, and then running. It can be physically daunting if you can see where you are going, yet alone if you are blind. She competes by being tethered to her training partner, who is able to guide her along. She said, “Trust is paramount. And, blind trust is putting faith in someone you might not know…However, I have blindly trusted people to get me from point A to point B more times than I can count, and it has taken me places I never thought I’d go. When I’m tethered to a guide or on a tandem, it’s all on somebody else to make a decision, and I have to trust them. But, there is a reverse to that. They have to trust that when they give me a direction, I’m going to do what they say. Without trust, I can do nothing.” “I need others to be my eyes, but I’m doing just fine without much vision. A lot of people think there’s things I’m missing out on, but I’m headed to the Olympic Training Center” to Rio De Janeiro and then Tokyo, Japan for the 2020 Paralympic Games.
Today, you may be sitting here with perfect vision, maybe 20-20 vision, and are running a race. Hebrews 12:1- Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Yet you like Ashley have to decide not only if you are going to be tethered to Christ throughout your race, but whether or not you are going to trust his directions. Jesus said,”I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (Untethered you feel like you know where you are going, but you are lost, you walk with God only up until you see the destination and then you take back over)—It is what plays out when people join the church and then fail to become part of the church, it’s what happens when factions start pulling a church in two directions, when we walk with God for a while praying for the right bf/gf and then we decide to do what we want when we got them. )
We get so used to being in control that it is hard to give up the driver’s seat, but it is when we trust in Jesus that he promises to take us places we’ve never been before. Maybe you saw this truth place out with your elderly parents. You finally had to have the talk about their driver’s license…Gradually, they probably started driving less and less places, more isolated, holding on to the right to drive, and yet when they finally gave it up, finally asked for help, it freed them up to go places they could never get alone.
What could happen if we bowed down to Christ’s leadership? America makes up 5% of the world’s population, and we control 20% of the wealth. 3.5 billion people live on less than $2 a day, Americans spend more annually on trash bags than nearly half of the world does on all goods. Forty percent of people in the world lack basic sanitation, while forty-nine million diapers are used and thrown away in America every day. (Imagine yourself without a car, without electricity, without basic food, without clean water, and now realize that you are the majority in the world, not the minority!) God has more in store for us than just cramming our homes with more things that won’t make us happy. He envisions a bigger plan for us than allowing comfort to cause us forgets the champion of the Gospels. He has blessed us so that we can bless those around us—given us a voice so we can be his witness. Christianity isn’t something to be bought, another title to add, it is being tethered to the one who knows where he is going. Maybe Christ leads you to have a garage sell to support a Compassion International child; to cut back on the ultra-fancy phone plan so that you can focus more on prayer, to cut out one night out on the town to ensure that you are being faithful giver to his mission.