I’m sure we all remember growing up, when our parents went to discipline us they would say, “this is going to hurt me, more than it is going to hurt you.” I remember thinking that was the biggest lie ever told. Now, as a parent, I realize there is a lot of truth in that statement. Some question if it is going to cause some form of pain to everyone involved, why do it? The Bible is clear on that answer, we discipline because we love. How do we know this? There are several places in the Bible that we can see it, but Jesus plainly says it in Revelation 3:19, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.”
This admonition from Jesus is given to the church at Laodicea. This is known as the “lukewarm” church. John uses the reality of the aqueduct system near Laodicea to teach a spiritual truth about this church. What was the problem in the church? We may not know the exact problem that drew this swift rebuke from Jesus, but we can certainly see the attitude they had. Jesus told them to be zealous. The word zealous means to be full of, devoted to, or diligent. We can think of it in terms of being passionate or fervent for someone or something. The opposite of zealous is apathy or indifference. Therefore, when Jesus tells them to be zealous, He is telling them to no longer be indifferent towards Him. This was a church that was just going through the motions. Has there ever been a time in which you just went through the motions of your walk with God? I think this is a warning to all churches, it is easy to put things on cruise control or just hit play on our programs in the ministry. That is one thing that I am grateful for in 2020. As hard has this year has been, and as tough as the pandemic has been to navigate at times, it has forced me as a pastor to reexamine things. We couldn’t just continue ministry as usual, because this is a very unusual year. I believe for many this will be a defining moment in which we either woke up or we will die out.
I know this has been a tough year. But I believe we can also see many blessings of this year if we look for them. I believe that God, in His love for His children and His church, has shaken us to our foundation, and this is a good thing. As long as our foundation is built upon Jesus Christ, the Gospel, and the truths of Scripture, the foundation is still there and rebuilding can happen. Of course, there are those who were trying to build on another foundation, and that foundation has cracked out from under them. As difficult as that is, we still need to see that as a blessing from God. How terrible would it be to build a ministry on a foundation other than the one true foundation that can and will stand the test of time? It makes me think of Psalm 127:1, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” This leads me to ask you a question, what is the foundation of your life? Who or what are you building your life on? Jesus said in Matthew 7, we are either building on the Rock, which is Him, or we are building on life on sinking sand. As the verse in Revelation 3 says, God disciplines us because He loves us. Maybe God is tearing down the house of your life, so that you will build on the right foundation now and for all of eternity. No matter the difficulty, just remember, God does love you and He desires and knows what is best for us. Therefore, we can think of His discipline as Him correcting our course to get us heading in the right direction. He does it because He loves us. Praise God for His love, even if it brings a little pain into our life. It is better to have a little pain now and experience joy for all of eternity, than to have all joy now and experience pain in eternity.
By His grace and for His glory,