August Reading from The Message
The beginning of Revelation is full of John’s letters to churches. In turn he acknowledges their strengths and then calls out their missteps. But the final church in Laodicea receives a stirring critique and then a clear promise of presence for those who knock…
Write to Laodicea, to the Angel of the church. God’s Yes, the Faithful and Accurate Witness, the First of God’s creation, says:
15-17 “I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You’re not cold, you’re not hot—far better to be either cold or hot! You’re stale. You’re stagnant. You make me want to vomit. You brag, ‘I’m rich, I’ve got it made, I need nothing from anyone,’ oblivious that in fact you’re a pitiful, blind beggar, threadbare and homeless.
18 “Here’s what I want you to do: Buy your gold from me, gold that’s been through the refiner’s fire. Then you’ll be rich. Buy your clothes from me, clothes designed in Heaven. You’ve gone around half-naked long enough. And buy medicine for your eyes from me so you can see, really see.
19 “The people I love, I call to account—prod and correct and guide so that they’ll live at their best. Up on your feet, then! About face! Run after God!
20-21 “Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I’ll come right in and sit down to supper with you. Conquerors will sit alongside me at the head table, just as I, having conquered, took the place of honor at the side of my Father. That’s my gift to the conquerors!
22 “Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches.”
Prayer is Carefully Protected Intimacy
Suppose you’re dining with a person you very much want to be with—a best friend, say, or a spouse. The dinner is in a fine restaurant where everything is arranged to give you a sense of privacy. There’s adequate illumination at your table with everyone else in shadow. You’re aware of other people and other activities in the room, but they don’t intrude on your intimacy. You talk and listen. There are moments of silence, full of meaning. You depart, still in companionship with the person with whom you’ve dined, but on the street the conversation is less personal and more casual.
This is a picture of prayer. The person with whom we set aside time for intimacy, for this deepest and most personal kind of conversation, is Christ. At such times the world isn’t banished, but it’s in the shadows, on the periphery. Prayer is never complete and unrelieved solitude. It is, though, carefully protected intimacy. Prayer is having the desire to listen to Christ firsthand, to speak to him firsthand, and then setting aside the time to do it. It issues from the conviction that the living Christ is immensely important to you and that what goes on between you demands your exclusive attention.
Christ stands at the door of your heart and knocks, hoping you will open the door and invite him to share his life with you . . . and for you to share your life with him. Prayer is the shared meal where that happens. If we fail to recognize that and don’t open the door, we leave him standing outside, hungering for fellowship with us.
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