The key to healthy human activity is the difficult balance between acting as God’s steward but not imagining that we are gods ourselves. Taking ownership instead of seizing control. Serving instead of manipulating through power (we can manipulate through service as well). Love as transcendent community rather than transactional superficiality. Accepting reality rather than working under the arrogant delusion we can make a new one.
In this rebuke to the church at Laodicea, Jesus tells them He is chastising them because He loves them. The current reality is that their perspective is warped; they think they are rich while they are in actuality wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. They must have been pretty deeply immersed in self-delusion for Jesus to have to use such graphic terms to describe their condition. Not just wretched. Not just pitiful. Not just poor, or blind or naked. But all those things. It is a statement intended to jolt the church into seeing reality.
How could there be such a vast chasm between what they perceive and what is true? Perhaps instead of using their wealth and capacities to increase their availability and usefulness to God, they spent it on attempting to satisfy the unquenchable appetites of the flesh. The Bible is clear that such a quest leads to slavery and loss.
Jesus gives these whom He loves a jolt, to shake them into reality. To help them realize their poverty, and get to work amassing true riches. Jesus goes on to exhort them to accumulate all the gold they want, gold that lasts. And that is obtained by hearing Jesus’ voice, and gaining intimacy with Him.
We all struggle to maintain perspective.
Living in non-reality, the perversion of our true condition, has its root in our sinful nature. Thankfully, by hearing the voice of Jesus, listening to His ways, embracing and appreciating the jolts He gives us along the way, we can perceive the truth. It is to these same Laodiceans that Jesus extends the promise to share His throne if they overcome as He overcame. The great opportunity before us is to escape the futility of living an illusion, and gain instead the riches of eternity.