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July 14, 2011

Thursday is for Turkey: The Church in Laodicea

Today, we wrap up our series of reflections on the Upstream Collective Vision Trip to Turkey.

The last of the 7 Churches mentioned in Revelation is the church in Laodicea. As I preached through Revelation 3:14-22, I joked that there aren't a whole lot of church planters naming their churches after Laodicea. In His revelation to John, Jesus has nothing good to say about His followers in the ancient Roman city.

The warning, about being "neither hot nor cold," is often quoted in sermons today. On during our visit to the ruins of Laodicea, we recognized the error of the popular interpretation of the passage. The city's distance from hot and cool springs made its water lukewarm and unusable. The church, Jesus says, is the same way. This isn't a question of believing or not believing, it's an indictment on Christ-followers whose apathy and indifference make them good for nothing.

Likewise, the passage's famous ending, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock..." is often subject to unfounded editorializing. This isn't the Savior knocking on the door of the unbeliever's heart, it's the King knocking on the door of the church that has left Him out completely.

These are good warnings for us all. Click here for a brief teaching on the subject from what was once Laodicea.

Our tour of the 7 Churches of Asia Minor had many layers: we saw the sites of Biblical events, we visited with national and expatriate believers across the country, and we discussed incarnational ministry and missiology along the way.

If you've followed this series of posts over the last couple weeks, you may have recognized some recurring themes throughout. Jesus' warnings to the churches in the Book of Revelation foreshadow the current struggle of the believers in this country. Jesus spoke of a coming persecution; we know of several Turkish Christ-followers who have suffered for their faith. Jesus warned of false teaching; we see a nation that has abandoned the gospel. Jesus speaks to a small and frail church; there are only three thousand believers in Turkey today.

But the churches of Asia Minor serve as examples to us all. Have we, like the church in Ephesus, left our first love? Where are we tolerant of widespread sin, like the church at Thyatira? What are our idols? Have indifference and apathy kept us from being faithful proclaimers of the gospel?

I'm thankful for everyone who helped make this trip great: the church planters and leaders who came along, the workers we met along the way, and the Upstream Collective, who are committed to helping churches have an incarnational presence both locally and globally. If you have any questions about the work in Turkey, or if you want to lead your church to be directly involved in God's global activity, please get in touch with the Upstream Collective.

We're currently planning our next few vision trips. If you're a leader who might be interested in one of these trips, or a worker on the field who may be able to host one, please suggest a destination for a future trip and to get you plugged in for God's global mission.

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Thursday is for Turkey: The Church in Laodicea