E-pistle May 29

The National Spelling Bee and the Dangers of Indifference
 
You may have seen the news about the winner of this year’s National Spelling Bee. Kavya Shivashankar became the nation’s best speller last night by correctly spelling Laodicean, which the dictionary says is a proper adjective meaning indifferent especially in matters of religion or politics. I think it means more than that. I’ll explain in a minute.
 
There are great dangers in indifference, being Laodicean, but, in our world, a great value, as well.  We need to be indifferent to all those who would seek to rouse our passions for the meaningless and the trite. We need to be indifferent, or relatively so, when it comes to Crest or Colgate, Mac or PC, Coke or Pepsi.  That said, one person’s indifference may be another person’s passion. Many of you may be completely Laodicean when it comes to who wins the Western Conference Finals in the NBA. Normally I’d be at least somewhat indifferent.  But, please, don’t expect indifference from Pastoral Assistant Jonathan LaBarge.  No Laodicean he when it comes to his Lakers. 
 
The dictionary cites Laodicean indifference especially in the realm religion and politics, and, again, I’d argue for at least some.  In politics, I simply can’t maintain passion for every cause and every policy. I’d go nuts and you’d never invite me to a dinner party.  And, yes, in religion, too. In fact, I’m fairly Laodicean when it comes to beginnings and ends. That is, young earth or old earth, literal or figurative seven days – I have some thoughts and opinions, but am really pretty indifferent (but passionate about the “who” behind creation!). Likewise, count me as Laodicean when it comes to theories of rapture and tribulation – sorry, I’m just indifferent when it comes to pre-, mid-, or post trib; easy to do when you’re pretty much a-trib, (but passionate about the “who” at the end of time [this one is for my daughter Alanna who is not indifferent about Johnny Cash; go to the 3:20 point if you don’t want to listen to the whole piece]).
 
But, really, being Laodicean is about more than indifference, otherwise we could afford to be Laodicean about the word that won the National Spelling Bee.  The word, of course, comes straight from the pages of Scripture.  The letter to the church in Laodicea is the last of the seven delivered to the churches of the second and third chapters of the Revelation of Jesus to John. The Laodiceans had become indifferent to Jesus because they were affluent, busy and self-satisfied.  And Jesus says he will spew them out as a person would spew out filthy water he had mistaken as being pure. 
 
Indifference to Jesus is not at all like indifference about toothpaste or cola, political minutiae or theological speculation.  It is a matter of life and death.  But Jesus is gracious.  He is not indifferent to the plight of the lukewarm Laodiceans – nor is he indifferent to the plight of affluent, busy and self-satisfied American Christians, Langhorne Presbyterians.  He does not give up on us.  Mercifully he says, “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.”
 
My prayer is that we Presbyterians at Langhorne not be Laodicean when it comes to Jesus and his stand-at-the-door-and-knock love for us; that Christ and his Kingdom, that Christ and his Bride, the church, become our great passion despite our affluence, busy-ness and self-satisfaction.  In fact, my prayer is that we would become downright Philadelphian (go ahead, click on the link and take a look!).
 
I wonder if there is a dictionary somewhere that defines Philadelphian as passionate about Christ and patient in faith.  Maybe someone could be crowned National Spelling Bee champ by spelling it correctly. Jesus says that we’ll keep the crown he’s given us if we will but be Philadelphian.  It beats being Laodicean hands down.