Moral Life and Challenges
by Frederick Pogorzelski
An Early Church problem, that still continues today, is complacency or religious indifferentism to moral evil. Notice especially the wealthy, and people of high social standing as exemplified by the Church of Laodicea ( Rev. 3:14-22 ). The Laodicean Christians were more concerned about their social and economic standing, and did not want to give true witness to their Christian faith. Avarice, the love of money, is corrosive to the faith and the soul. Greed and love of wealth creates an illusion; or a self delusional false identity.
The False Identity of the Way of the World
In part, the false identity of the way of the world, is that, a person is what a person has. The person deludes himself into believing that he is what he has. Hangers around, that is; people pursuing and catering to the wealthy, help to psychologically reinforce the self image of exaggerated self importance and success. The real, everlasting identity, is the persons standing before God ( 1 Tim 6:10 ). The Laodicean Christians had their priorities backwards, that is: they sought the approval of men first; and then they took little risk, or trouble, to exert themselves to seek the Kingdom of God. Giving true witness to the Christian faith might lead to social rejection or accusations before authorities; possibly even death. They were more concerned about the harm from the first death, than the coming to no harm from the second death.
The indifferentism at the Church of Laodicea stands in sharp contrast to the Christian faith at the Church at Smyrna ( Rev. 2:8-11 ) where there is material poverty but spiritual wealth. The Church of Christ, the “Israel of God” will have “peace and mercy” (Gal. 6: 14-16) ( Rom. 8:38f ) ( Rom. 9:6-8 ). What really matters in the end, is a new creation in Christ; “the slander of the people who falsely claim to be Jews but are really members of the synagogue of Satan” – they will not be amongst – “those who prove victorious will come to no harm from the second death”. In early theological controversies and disputes with the Jews, Christian apologists claimed for the Church the title of the “New Israel” or the “Israel of God” with Peter as their legal representative, a new “Moses.”
Jesus complaint about the obstinacy of Jerusalem.
More Early Church problems, that continue today, are: intellectual pride, deliberately “choosing not to know” or acknowledge the truth, obstinacy, sin, and selfishness. Educated hearers mocked St. Paul ( Acts 17:32 ) when he spoke of the flesh being resurrected; they believed in the immortality of the soul – but the flesh being resurrected was too much for them. Intellectual pride, obstinacy, and “choosing not to know”, continues today as a barrier or blinder to the words of eternal life and salvation. Notice Jesus complaint about the obstinacy of Jerusalem: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often have I longed to gather your children together, as a hen fathers her brood under her wings, and you refused!” ( Lk 13:34 ).