Stage 1 – Darkness and Denial
13 "From the least to the greatest,
all are greedy for gain;
prophets and priests alike,
all practice deceit.
14 They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
‘Peace, peace,’ they say,
when there is no peace.
15 Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct?
No, they have no shame at all;
they do not even know how to blush.
So they will fall among the fallen;
they will be brought down when I punish them,"
says the LORD.
10 " ‘Because they lead my people astray, saying, "Peace," when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, 11 therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall. Rain will come in torrents, and I will send hailstones hurtling down, and violent winds will burst forth. 12 When the wall collapses, will people not ask you, "Where is the whitewash you covered it with?"
14"To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. 19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.
Throughout the scriptures we see that God’s people in times of trouble often have leaders who are in denial. In Jeremiah the prophets and priests “dress the wound of the people as though it were not serious”. I had a friend once who had a ruptured appendix which was misdiagnosed as food poisoning. The delay in treatment resulted in internal devastation and near death. If we under respond to a spiritual crisis we risk magnifying the damage unnecessarily. Ezekiel laments that some leaders erect flimsy buildings and dress them up well, only to be utterly destroyed when they are exposed to trials. There are many churches that are dead on the inside but have leaders who are expert at making things look and sound respectable. The church in Laodicea was still functioning and its members felt good about life, but Jesus was nauseated by them.
Warning Signs of Darkness and Denial
• Leadership “Keeping Peace” – primary goal – avoid criticism
• Don’t know where you are – membership, attendance, baptisms, etc.
• Compare yourself with worst possible scenario
o “At least we are not shouting at church”
o “At least I don’t feel guilty all the time”
o “At least ….
• Distorted view of the past – all bad or all good
o Numbers 11:4-5 Egypt – great food, free!
Solution – Humility
• Romans 12:3 – Sober Judgment
o Drunk Drivers are often unaware – need objective perspective
o We only find God’s will when we give our heart, use our talent and stay humble with others