A big part of growing up is learning. Some lessons you learn by hearing, some you learn by seeing, some you learn by doing. And other lessons are learned by reading some whacked out stories about wolves and pigs and little girls with baskets. That’s right, I’m talking about children’s stories. Stories about animals doing people things so that little people can learn important things about growing into big people.
Personally, those are my favorites. I’m thoroughly convinced that my social life in high school would’ve gone much smoother if only we had a nice fable about dating; with a fox and a possum and a 6-foot ball player named Doug. But that’s just me.
Stories, and fables, and nursery rhymes always made things very easy to understand. “The Tortoise and the Hare” taught us that not giving up is a more successful attitude than arrogance. “The Three Little Pigs” taught us the benefits of good old fashioned brick-pointing, and “Hansel and Gretel” taught us that leaving a trail of breadcrumbs to follow is a good way to attract bugs,.. or maybe that was my Mother.
Of all the children’s stories however, there was always one that I never quite got; “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”. I’m sure you remember it. There is this house in a forest inhabited by three bears. A Poppa bear, a Momma bear, and a Baby bear. Well, one day these bears all sit down to eat their porage, but no one is happy with it, so they decide to let it sit for a while as they all go for a walk. There we meet Goldilocks, a young girl who was walking through the forest when she stumbles onto the bears house. For whatever reason, she decides to eat the bears porage. But the Poppa bear’s was too hot, and the Momma bear’s was too cold, but the Baby’s was just right, so she ate it all. Then she decides to take a nap, but the Poppa bear’s bed was too hard, and the Momma bear’s bed was too soft, but the Baby’s was just right, so she goes to sleep. Unfortunately, the bears return to the house to see that someone has been in their home, and eaten their porage and slept in their beds. And when they discover the young girl in the Baby bears bed, they eat her instead of the porage, and live happily ever after,.. The End!
So what’s the moral of the story? Uninvited house guests deserve to die? Sleeping after a meal is a great way to confuse your metabolism? Only YOU can prevent home invasions? I can’t be sure. But that was until I read what Jesus had to say to the church of Laodicea in the book of Revelation:
“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the Creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ – and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked – I council you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’”
The Laodiceans didn’t seem to like things hot or cold either. They wanted everything to be just right. They didn’t want any more of God or any less of God. They had their salvation, their ticket to heaven, and that’s all they needed. That’s all they wanted. I know a lot of Christians that seem to act like this today. They call themselves Christian. They may even go to church. But when you peek just below the surface, you’ll see a Christianity that’s empty, and hollow.
The gospel however, is anything but empty, or hollow, or lukewarm. The gospel is something that you are going to react to. It’s too hot for some, it’s too cold for others. That’s what Paul means when he writes to the Corinthians, “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Corinthians 1:21-25)
We preach Christ crucified! That is our message. That is the message that saves. But what were the Laodiceans preaching? “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing.” (Revelation 3:17) Today, you could slap that sentence on the cover of a book, put it in the Christian section, and no one would know the difference. This is a church of Christ that Jesus is speaking to, one of the seven lampstands, and these people were doing very well. Yet, how does Christ define them?.. “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17), and what’s worse is, they didn’t know it. Would you?
If you’re focusing on what God has blessed you with in this life, then you are only leaving yourself open to disappointment. Not that we shouldn’t praise God for every gift He gives to us, but we should be more grateful for the Giver. The church at Laodicea says, ‘I… have need of nothing’. (Revelation 3:17) As a Christian, I say, ‘I am constantly dependent on Your mercy and Your grace, Father!’
And we too, as Christians need to hunger and thirst for righteousness, not comfort. We aren’t promised comfort anyway. We are however, promised that we will be hated by others for our testimony, and for the gospel that we are called to preach. Just look at what Jesus tells us in the gospel of Matthew, chapter 10; “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” (verse 16), “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.” (verse 22), “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” (verses 38 & 39) Comfort is the last thing we should expect. But it’s all the Laodiceans wanted, and it’s all that Goldilocks wanted as well.
What would Goldilocks obituary read? Sweet little girl, wandered into the woods. She was looking for something comfortable. She wanted something lukewarm. And she died for it. What a sad story.
But it doesn’t have to end the same way for us. The Holy Spirit is still at work within us. And Christ gives us a warning, not to stray any further: “Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 3:19b-22)
If we would just repent from the sin of comfort, and seek God with all our hearts, then we will overcome this world, and we will live in union with Christ,.. happily ever after.