Wake Up, O Sleeper, Rise From the Dead
Many of us have read Jesus’ letter to the Laodicean church in Revelation 3:14-22 and have understood it to describe the end times Church — the Church that we see in the West today. The connection is easy to see. We are rich and seemingly do not need a thing, when in fact, we are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
We demand to be entertained and flock to superstar leaders who tickle our ears (2 Timothy 4:3-4) with false doctrine and unbelief. Complacent and compromising, we have become powerless; we sit in darkness.
It’s as God said to His prophet Ezekiel:
My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to listen to your words, but they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice. (Ezekiel 33:31-32)
To this, God says…
“Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you.” (Jeremiah 2:19)
The Shepherds’ Example
Sexual immorality and impurity run wild in the Church today. This is alarming in view of Ephesians 5:5: “No immoral, impure or greedy person — such a man is an idolater — has any inheritance in the Kingdom of God.”
Homosexual behavior, the sexual abuse of minors, adultery, promiscuity, the use of pornography and all forms of fornication are rampant among clergy and others in our churches. A huge swath of the shepherds of the flock do little to call people to holiness, or equip the Church to minister to the epidemic of sexually bound and broken people.
“Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” (Romans 1:32)
People who commit such sins see leaders doing nothing about the gross immorality in the Church, and they view it as tacit approval for what they do.
Jesus warned the hypocritical shepherds of His day, “Woe to you blind guides. … Woe to you teachers of the law… you hypocrites! … You clean the outside, but inside [you] are full of greed and self-indulgence.” (Matthew 23:16a, 23a, 25).
Sex Abuse in The Church
Recent scandals have uncovered horrific child predation in the Catholic Church. Prelates protect the perpetrators, even elevating them to higher positions in the Church.
State Attorneys General have uncovered thousands of instances of sexual abuse of minors. Thousands of abuse cases have also been discovered in Europe. Yet the Church continues to stonewall secular authorities.
Where is the concern for the victims whose lives have been forever scarred? Where is the mercy? Where is the justice? Where is the ministry of healing for the victims? It’s fallen victim to seared consciences among the shepherds of the sheep.
Protestantism, too, is too frequently marked by abuse, denial, cover-ups, legal resistance and refusal to admit guilt and to appropriately compensate victims.
The Apostle Peter called out false prophets and teachers who condone such sin:
“Blackest darkness is reserved for them … for they appeal to the lustful desires of sinful human nature and entice people … promising them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity.” (2 Peter 2:17b, 18b, 19a)
Wake Up, O Sleeper
The Church is blind to the danger it has put itself in, not only for enabling child abuse, but for all of the sexual immoralities it harbors within its ranks. In countless cases, offenders have been quickly returned to their clerical office, sending a clear message to the world that victims are mere collateral damage in the pursuit of power and position.
Truly, our modern “Laodicean” church has lost its fear of God and its hatred of evil.
But what of grace, you may ask? Let’s let the Apostle Paul answer that question:
Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? … For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. …
For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 6:1-2, 23; 8:13-14)
So again I say, “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you!” (Ephesians 5:14b)
Dr. David Kyle Foster is the author of Transformed Into His Image, Love Hunger and Sexual Healing and is the founder/director of Mastering Life Ministries (www.MasteringLife.org). A major revision and expansion of Sexual Healing (The Sexual Healing Reference Edition) is slated for publication in November of 2018.