I read an article last week about Bath Abbey church in England. The church was built on the remains of a massive Norman Cathedral. For more than 300 years, thousands of people were buried just beneath the stone flooring of the church. The building is 500 years old. As it continues to lift and settle great voids have been discovered. This is causing the flooring to collapse. The burials were stopped in 1840 when the abbey was so full they opened a cemetery.
Mr. Charles Curnook with the abbey said, “I’ve had lots of estimates of how many bodies are buried here, but somewhere between 4,000 and 6,000, but they just jammed them in and jammed them in – it would have been very unpleasant to put it mildly.” Unpleasant would be quite an understatement. I can’t imagine what that would have been like at the time that it took place. They did not know the structural effects those burials had on the abbey until trial digs began in 2011 and 2012. Initially the crew was looking for the foundation walls of the Norman Cathedral so they could use it to lay new flooring. What they discovered instead was huge voids underground in every place and even fresh air. They stopped working when they discovered “a honeycomb of huge voids created by burials shifting and decaying.” They also discovered that over 100 years earlier the Victorians encountered the same problem. In order to “fix” the issue they took a more aggressive approach. Mr Curnook said, “”They basically churned up the graves that were there and broke them up to try and consolidate the floor,” Keep in mind at that time the bodies had only been there 30 or 40 years. Over 150 years later the current abbey occupants have the same problem. There is so much that can be said about what is happening at Bath Abbey. This proves that something can look good and even be functional until the day it can no longer support the dead ideas and dead religion that lies underneath. It cannot stand through the generations and unless a true habitation of God takes place another generation will be responsible. Those of the Victorian era tried to fix it but they made it worse. Kim Watkins, an archaeological consultant for the Bath Abbey project said, “But it’s the extent of the disturbance by the Victorians that more than anything has surprised me and unfortunately it’s more the destruction that’s a surprise than what has actually survived.” In their haste to correct the problem and remodel; it’s the destruction that surprised Ms. Watkins. If we don’t deal with something correctly and under the unction of the Holy Spirit future generations will pay the price.
This brings me to the Church of Laodicea. A few things of note about the city of Laodicea (1) it was an extremely wealthy city and was the financial center of Asia, (2) It was a city of clothing manufacturing and retail. (3) Laodicea had a tremendous medical center. They were famous for ear and eye ointments. The eye ointment was known for being able to heal blindness. Laodicea was impressive and extremely rich. Jesus saw the Church quite differently. Their relationship with God was dead and they were haughty. They looked good on the outside but underneath they were full of dead, dry bones. They thought they were wealthy and didn’t need anything. Jesus looked beyond their exterior and saw the void. He saw their present condition. He said that unless they repented He would vomit them out of His mouth. Jesus didn’t leave them in that state though. This is a rags to riches story. He gave them instruction and counsel. Revelation 3:17-22 says, ‘Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore 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 will dine with him, and he with Me. ‘He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.‘” This is a message for THE churches. It’s not just for the Laodiceans. I’m only going to cover part of this counsel. I encourage you to spend your own devotional time reading and praying about these verses. Ask the Spirit of God to show you any areas of great void and dead thinking. Jesus advised them and He advises us now to buy of HIM gold… That word of is very interesting. It can be translated “buy next to My side gold.” True spiritual gold can only be bought by His side in intimate relationship. It’s the same word used in James 1:5 if any of you lacks wisdom let him ask OF God. It shows someone attached to the side of something or someone. Notice we have to do this our own. No one can do this for us, not our pastors, family or friends. We can buy books, CD’s and go to special anointing services on a regular basis but there are some things that can only be learned attached to His side on our knees in prayer and reading His Word one on one. We have to buy from and at His side gold refined in the fire so we may become rich. We have to allow His Spirit and Word filter our motives and attitudes of our heart. We can let Jesus deal with our faults and motives now or later. Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to deal with something now than later? Jesus wants us to deal with things now. He doesn’t want it to get worse. He wants to reveal to us the dead and decaying attitudes that are causing our foundations to shift and eventually collapse. Notice He said “and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed;” He doesn’t want the naked places in our lives to be revealed. He wants us to deal with them now. Jesus said those whom I love, I reprove and discipline. The word love in that scripture means those whom I feel very dear to, those I consider to be My friends, My dear ones. Reprove means to simply point out wrongs, and discipline means to chasten, instruct or discipline as a child. Jesus said “Those whom I dearly love and consider friends I point out their wrongs and discipline as I would a child.” That’s not something to fear or dread. The motivation of His heart is pure love. He wants us to be zealous and repent. Repentance is about making a decision not acting on an emotion. Jesus loves us! He wants us to repent; He wants us to change our minds. He doesn’t want to vomit us out of His mouth. If He’s reproving you about anything it’s because He considers you a friend and wants a deeper level of intimacy. As we do this, He knocks on the door of our hearts. The verb tense of the word knock means a continual knocking. He’s continually knocking on the door of our hearts. The tense of the word hear means that Jesus assumes people are hearing His message and will act on it. I want to hear and act on everything He says. Only we can open the door though. He is waiting for us to open the door as He continually knocks. Dine stands for the evening meal. It was the meal that lasted the longest and people used it as an opportunity for fellowship. It wasn’t rushed and was a time of intimacy. Jesus said if we repent and open the door to Him we will have great fellowship and intimacy. Intimate fellowship with Jesus is genuine spiritual richness. Jesus saw the Laodiceans in their condition but He also offered a way of healing. He loves us too much to leave us in any other condition but complete intimacy and fellowship with Him. It’s the longing of His heart. This is a true rag to riches story.