The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord ’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord , that he may be glorified. They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations” (Isaiah 61:1-5, ESV).
Who are the poor? Where do we find the poor in spirit?
Who is brokenhearted?
Who is captive, and to what are they enslaved, who is their master?
Who is in bondage, and what imprisons them?
Who is mourning, and for what?
These are the people Jesus came for, and if you and I are honest, we are those people: poor, brokenhearted, captive, in bondage, in mourning. Too many of us are lying to ourselves, though, or at least lying to others. We act satisfied with what we have and who we are. Perhaps this is because we lack hope, we lack a vision of something higher, something eternal. Perhaps too many of us are like the Laodiceans.
Laodicea was the seventh church the risen Jesus Christ addressed in Revelation chapter three. The church was established in a wealthy city filled with proud self-sufficient and self-satisfied and citizens. Here is what the Lord said to them, and what I believe would say to many of us:
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 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” (Revelation 3:15-17, NIV).
So long as you believe that you have all you need, that you are well and life is good, you will never receive blessing from God or be the person he desires. Your vision is clouded. You’ve become nearsighted by constantly looking only at what is placed in front of your face. You are a consumer and you buy, buy, buy whatever is easy, convenient, whatever feels good, or what everyone else has. Your imagination, the mind’s eye, is ruined with countless images of violence and pornography, which have been paraded before you and from which you have refused to look away. Yet there is still hope, if you sense conviction that something is wrong with you.
Here is what the risen Christ counseled the Laodiceans to do.
“I 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. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent” (Revelation 3:18-19, NIV).
Perhaps you keep it together on the outside. Your friends and family think you’re normal, just like them. Yet being just like them is not the standard to determine whether you are right on the inside. Jesus Christ is the standard. More important for us, he is the Savior. He will save and heal and provide for those who come to him and give up their lives. You have nothing to offer him but your life, your wounded, wrecked, worthless life. That is what he wants, though. Confess your need to Christ right now and invite him inside, even if you’ve done it a hundred or a thousand times. Perhaps you’ve finally reached the end of your self-centered, lonely little life. He is standing at the door.
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20, NIV).