“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the origin of God’s creation:
15“I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. 16So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17For you say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.’ You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich; and white robes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen; and salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. 19I reprove and discipline those whom I love. Be earnest, therefore, and repent. 20Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me. 21To the one who conquers I will give a place with me on my throne, just as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”
Why is it that we believe the trick and ignore the treat? I remember an episode of “Little House on the Prairie” where the girls thought they had found a stream filled with gold. They spent all their free time in the mud and cold water dreaming of what they would buy with their new found wealth becoming greedier and more selfish until they learned that the easy treasure they had discovered was only fool’s gold, iron pyrite. Their behavior soon looked as foolish. I also remember seeing a show about con artists who tricked people out of their money with promises of easy riches or special deals at cut rate prices. When they saw the greed glitter in the person’s eyes, they knew they had their victim.
In the early church, it wasn’t always wealth, but secret knowledge, gnosis it was called, that would place you closer to God and thus make you better than others. Special works of faith, positions of power within the church, and other so-called tricks that would give you and only you the privileged position and God’s favor. In Luther’s day, it was wealth again as special forgiveness was sold to the highest bidder no matter how serious the sin. Where was the harm? It was only a fund raiser for the building project, wasn’t it? But then the knocking on the church’s door was not the tricksters, but a monk with hammer and nails and 95 questions exposing the con-men of the day and calling people back to the grace and love of Jesus. This was a treat not limited to the wealthy or the powerful or those with special knowledge, but for all people. It was a gift, not only of salvation, but an invitation for all people to turn away from the fool’s gold of the world and join the mission of Jesus Christ. It was not only a knocking by a humble monk, but Jesus knocking on the church’s door, as he did for the church of Laodicea, calling all his people to join him, to be part of his work in sharing God’s love.
As we look at our world today, the voices of those who have the solutions to all our problems are loud and persistent. The politicians promise. The internet tells us of the secret knowledge of the conspiracy. The commercials confess the latest solution to all our needs from weight control to bad breath to getting the partner of our choice. The entertainment we watch finds new ways to shock and entice us saying that they are only giving us what we want. And we stay busy and noisy and follow the voices, but always there is a knocking. A knocking not offering more tricks that don’t work, but only the one treat that does. Why do we open the doors of our lives to all the distractions and tricks that take us away from our Lord and do not open the door to the one who can truly provide? Why do we think that God will have someone else do his mission that he entrusted to us?
Do you hear someone knocking? Trick or Grace?