It’s dumb and deadly to get comfort from anything more than we do from Jesus.
Jesus’ last letter to a 1st century church in the Roman province of Asia through the apostle John reads this way:
“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered 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 Christians in this fellowship sought comfort and joy. We all do. It is a universal human trait to seek happiness, even if only in pain or self-pity. We all seek comfort and joy, even if what makes us comfortable is pain.
Now God is clear, both in Jesus Christ and in His Scripture, that joy, happiness, eternal gladness, and meaning can only be found in Him. So we are made to delight and enjoy something, just like we want to, but that something is God. When we love some other thing more, when we seek our ultimate happiness or comfort or meaning in a piece of created stuff (however beautiful), we are sinning against the One worthy treasure. Against the Kings who graciously made us to enjoy His goodness.
The Laodiceans apparently loved stuff.
They loved what dollar bills could buy more than what no bank account contains enough to cover.
At the end of the book of Revelation Jesus says, “let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” But the members of the church in the city of Laodicea, by and large, loved either clothes or expensive trips or nice wine or whatever else it was their ancient Asian money could buy them. They loved things more than Jesus Christ. They delighted in possessions or earthly pleasure more than in Him. Were excited by things more than the Savior.
Now, there are various ways God condemns idolatry (worshiping anything/anyone but Him or loving anything/anyone more than Him), but He does always condemn it. God’s chosen leader Moses commanded that idolatry not happen, the Old Testament prophets said God’s judgment would fall upon Judah and Israel for idolatry, and Jesus finally said that the allegiance of the heart had to be to Him above all.
If we’re excited about something else more than we are about Jesus, then we have something to repent of.
Very few of us recognize this as sin. I myself went years without thinking of loving TV or the weekend or even really good things like my wife more than Jesus as sin. But here Jesus reminds me and everyone else who follows Him that if we think we don’t need anything because we have stuff then we are sickening to Him. We make the risen King Jesus want to spiritually spit us out.
So what do we do?
Repent. Turn. Ask the Jesus who can change hearts and the Spirit who can make spiritually dead people alive to see the triune God (the God who is Father, Holy Spirit, and Son) as better. To cause us to want to buy His refined gold instead of the world’s sexy trinkets and trophies. We don’t just need what Jesus gives, we also need new eyes to see that we need it. And only God can make you love God.
But the encouragement Jesus gave Laodicea, and us, was and is that the idolatry doesn’t mean that it’s all lost. Our idolatry does not necessarily mean that He is certainly spitting us out right now. He says that He disciplines those He loves, and that anyone who lets Him in His friend.
So let’s turn our backs towards our greed and our faces toward the good Friend who loves us. Let’s ignore the clamoring in our flesh for more things and earthly pleasures, and ask God to make us long for the home we’re truly made for. Let’s be thankful for good things but never worship them, reserving that instead for the only One whom it’s due. Remember what the angel tells John in this same book in the last chapter:
“I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.'”