When I travel to a third world country, I’m struck with the vulnerability and generosity of people who have so little. There is no veneer to cover up their need. Even when the color of their hair shows malnutrition, they reach for my hand and smile.
When I return to the US, I’m struck with how often I encounter similarities. Sometimes people have unmet physical needs, yes, but often they are emotionally and spiritually malnourished. The difference is that in America, we hide what we lack. We convince ourselves that we need nothing, we can fend for ourselves, we can make it work. We paste on a smile, falsely believing that we can handle life on our own.
The Church of Laodicea struggled with this also. They listened as letters from six other churches were read aloud, knowing their turn was coming. They were a wealthy church, were able to help others, and saw themselves as a standout church. So imagine their surprise when they heard Jesus’ words:
“For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).
They didn’t need a thing—and that was the very problem. And there’s something important here for us today, too.
Jesus comes to us with His mercy and provision and we reply, “No thanks. We have an emergency fund and insurance if anything goes wrong.”
Jesus offers us the fruit of the Spirit and we say, “I’m good. I volunteer my time. I tithe and use my social media to encourage others. If you look closely, you’ll see I’m doing great with my personal righteousness.”
He offers us new sight and we turn away, “I have a solid education and you should see all the research I’ve done to back up my opinions!”
Without even realizing it, we allow ourselves to believe that self-sufficiency is the best way. Jesus implores the Laodicean church to repent. We would be wise to also listen to His words.
When we come to Him with nothing, He moves closer. Though we’ve often turned Him away, He doesn’t give up. Those areas we’ve been self-sufficient, determined to keep Him at arm’s length are the very areas He wants to share with us.
And so, there’s a decision to make. Will we repent of our self-sufficiency and allow Him to come and fill us to the brim?
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 3:22).