(Three Days until Apple Cider Slushies at the P-Fest! Just had to say that.)
Today I will give the Children's Moment at church. As soon as I was asked I began to pray. Being Pumpkin Festival week, it is on the minds of our children and the festival volunteers in our congregation. Taking part in this community event is where many churches find a place to take service into their home communities.
Jesus never desired that we stay secluded in our pretty little buildings of worship. We are to be apart... yet set apart for His purpose.
Our recent sermon series has been in Revelation. Today, we will talk about Laodicea from Revelation 3.
In Colossians 2:1, Paul mentioned Laodicea in his letter. These are Paul's words, not from the mouth of Jesus, but it struck me as I read that Revelation passage, that there may be some relevance. This is what Paul wrote:
I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other believers who have never met me personally. -Colossians 2:1
It appears Paul did not get to spend time with Laodicea and a flock of other believers. It grieved him. But as Colossian 2:1 continues, he points them to Jesus and his Word. After all, Paul was just a servant to the King. A great one, indeed. But, he wanted to assure them that in Christ, they had all they would need to seek his way and find new, eternal life.
By the time John pens his visions in Revelation, Laodicea is the church that looks so good on the outside. It appears to have wealth and affluence. It looked like the prettiest pumpkin in the patch. But, outside appearances can be deceiving and I am reminded that "man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord look at the heart". This is what Laodicea receives as a warning:
I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.-Revelation 3:15-16,19
"I will spit you out!" That is not even close to "Well done, good and faithful servant." In my opinion... it is one of the scariest verses in the Bible!
I can pick the prettiest pumpkin in the patch. The inside is full of potential. Seeds that can be planted to bring a greater harvest and the potential to be carved into something that gives off light on a dark night. But, for it to bring new growth and new life... I have to clean out the pumpkin.
I don't know about you, but I don't like pumpkin guts. They are sticky and messy. Left on their own in the elements... they will eventually stink. I have to clean that junk out before I can save the seeds that are good... and make a way for the light to shine. In other words: I can carve a beautiful cross on the front of a pumpkin, but to be a light and shine... I have to do the work of cleaning out the pumpkin guts.
We can't love God with all our hearts and chase the cross of Christ without mucking out the dirty stalls in our hearts. We can't love our neighbors like Jesus until we care more about the lost and hurting than we due "home improvements" in a house of worship.
Once we clean out the icky, sticky stuff and carefully tend the seeds... then the church can grow and be carved into something beautiful that allows His like to shine.
Today, I am grateful for a lesson found in a pumpkin.