It is certainly easy to see the parallels of indulgent deterioration, hastened by the corruption of a church whose god is really worldly wealth. The 20th Century in America was characterized by 'the American dream.' Wealth; getting rich. And that went for the church, too, which eagerly followed the rest of the world. It had its business models, modern accounting and fund-raising tactics, promises of prosperity for the Christian. Church became another big business, with its international programs, television and communication, its drama, theatre and "Christian" rock music.
Unfortunately, the church lost its way and its purpose, which was the Great Commission, sound doctrine and the perfecting of the saints. The Lord's condemnation of the Laodicean church was that it was spiritually apathetic and placed its faith in worldly wealth. It was "lukewarm."
"And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." Rev. 3:14-22.
The people are deceived. They see themselves as wealthy and self-sufficient. However, the Lord says they are "poor, blind and naked." As ironically as this applied to the ancient Laodicea - known for its banking, eye salve and clothing - it equally applies to the church of 2010, where finance, health and style (clothing) rules our culture.
The institutional church does not, and never has, converted the world. It is the individual members of the Body of Christ who are committed and obedient to God's Word who has won, and continues to win, individuals to Christ. This is the method through which the Lord calls out and perfects those whom He chooses for His own purposes. And these faithful individuals - not the great and famous 'names' or the masses who follow them - will be the ones to hear, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." The others, the vast majority in the institutional church, will hear: "Depart from me. I never knew you."
This called-out body of believers has always been destined to be forged on the anvil of institutional apostasy, satanic infiltration and persecution. These are the ones who have gone faithfully through the fires of difficulty and remained obedient. These are the ones who will shine as bright as the stars when they finally come face to face with their Lord. These are the ones who place Jesus Christ at the helm of their lives, no matter what, and can say with Paul:
"...And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." I Cor 12:5-10
Those individuals - the true church - rise to their best when pressures, limitations and opposition are applied. Then the weakness of the flesh exhibits the strength of the Holy Spirit, and the Lord is magnified and glorified.
Follow the Lord's voice rather than that of man. As He said, "My sheep know my voice." Yes, indeed.