Actually, there are two parts to the following question: Are we, as a Church, Laodiceans, and am I a Laodicean?
You might be familiar with the characterization of some foolish and ignorant people that if one does not belong to their particular organization, one is automatically brushed with the title of Laodicean and disqualified from belonging to the Philadelphian remnant of God’s Church.
At one time almost all of us belonged to one big organization–with a few exceptions of some who rebelled and started their own churches. I believe that we belonged at that time to the Philadelphia era of God’s church. I also believe–and so do many others– that since the death of Mr. Armstrong in 1986, we have entered the Laodicean era. The question is, what is it that makes a church or person a Laodicean? What does the Bible tell us about the Laodiceans, as described in Revelation 3:14-22?
Christ’s major criticism–and not the objections by some “would-be-judges” who suffer from elevated self importance–is that the Laodicea Church is lukewarm, while its members feel that they are rich and wealthy and in need of nothing. They show a self-sufficient attitude–whether one applies this physically or spiritually. Christ described them as wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked. It is evident that they perceive themselves quite differently than what they really are. Christ’s advice and counsel to them is to buy gold, to obtain white garments, and to anoint their eyes to see the reality of their current disposition. He also states that as many as He loves He chastens, indicating that some corrective action is required for them to bring them around to ensure that they achieve a spiritual condition which is acceptable by Christ.
We as a church (the Church of the Eternal God in the USA; the Global Church of God in the UK; and the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada) have never claimed to be the only remnant of the Philadelphia Church, but we hope, of course, that we are part of the Philadelphia Church. We have taken the position that there are true Philadelphians in every Church of God group–or at least in most–as well as Laodiceans, and we certainly do not pass judgment on any one group or individual.
What is the responsibility of the Church and of us, individually? The Church, as a body, is to preach and publish the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to the world as a witness (compare Matthew 24:14). Individually, we are to support that effort, and we are to grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).
If you are doing these things, then no one on this earth has any right to tell you that you are Laodicean and not a part of the Philadelphia remnant, only because you do not belong to the particular Church group of his choosing. The churches of God are scattered right now. Jesus Christ is the living Head of His Church which is not one corporate entity, but one spiritual entity. God the Father and Jesus Christ determine who is a Philadelphian or a Laodicean–or who is not a Christian at all. At this time, we cannot perceive a movement by God to bring us all together; therefore, there must be a reason for the scattering. It is not the prerogative of some men to pass judgment on God’s people or to sit in judgment of other members or groups–the self-righteous approach by some to determine–based on membership in “their” organizations–who is or is not a Philadelphian or a Laodicean, is contemptible in God’s eyes.
If you look at your particular situation and if you can stand before Christ at the judgment and say, “I grew in the Son’s grace and knowledge, even though I was not perfect, and I did my part to further the Gospel message to the world,” then you might very well hear the words of your Master: “Well done, you profitable servant.” On the other hand, those who self-righteously and blindly labeled you a Laodicean, because you did not belong to their group, might be called unprofitable servants and they might be thrown into outer darkness. Only God, who looks on the heart and circumstances in a Christian’s life, can make the right and just determination.
If you fulfill your Christian duties and responsibilities, then the answer to whether or not you are a Philadelphian or a Laodicean is self-evident.