These philosophical, scientific and theological trends led to a tendency towards self-sufficiency and the marginalizing of religion that is unprecedented in human history. Man has always had extremely diverse spiritual beliefs and doctrines, but a belief in a supernatural spiritual power which is the greatest influence of life has been central to nearly all peoples at all times. But the Laodicean period is characterized by spiritual indifference and materialism. “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I would that you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth. Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and do not know that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind and naked” (Revelation 3:15-17).
Here we see the condition of the church from the mid-nineteenth century until the present. It is a church that is comfortable and at ease—the persecutions and spiritual battles seem to be over. The fervent revivals of the Philadelphia era have lost their impact, and a great drowsiness seems to have settled over God’s people, lulling them into a spiritual stupor—“men who are settled in complacency, who say in their heart, ‘the Lord will not do good, nor will He do evil” (Zephaniah 1:12). In the light of the impending disasters that are foretold in the prophecies concerning the great time of trouble as well as the dire predictions of calamity by scientists and scholars, this complacency would be incomprehensible were it not for the knowledge that the enemy of all souls is exerting superhuman effort to ensure that few are ready for the events that are about to transpire.
Most of the people in western countries would classify themselves as Christians, but Christ Himself is considered to be largely irrelevant to the problems and issues today. For the majority of people, it doesn’t seem like God can help them get a better paying job, find relief from health problems, or solve problems in personal relationships. Religion means going to church and then ignoring God for the rest of the week. Paul predicted that this kind of religion would prevail—"in the last days...men will be lovers of themselves...having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:5).
The church should be giving a powerful message of invitation and warning to the world, but is instead comfortably lukewarm, pandering to the desire of the people for a comfortable religion to go along with their comfortable lifestyle. There seems to be an unspoken social contract: the church will be there for baptisms, weddings, funerals and nice “religious” holidays and will preach a smooth message of love and morality (“God loves you so you should try to be good”), avoiding messages that would require true sacrifice or change. The people on their part will make sure that the church has enough money to have nice buildings, facilities, programs, and salaries.
The ancient prophets foresaw this modern condition: “His watchmen are blind, they are all ignorant; they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yes, they are greedy dogs, which never have enough…They all look to their own way, every one for his own gain." "Tomorrow will be as today, and much more abundant” (Isaiah 56:10-12). “Woe to you who are at ease in Zion…woe to you who put far off the day of doom…[who] stretch out on your couches, eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall; who sing idly to the sound of stringed instruments, and invent for yourselves musical instruments like David; who drink wine from bowls and anoint yourselves with the best ointments” (Amos 6:1-6). Here is a picture of modern Christianity, with the focus on music, entertainment and feeling good, forgetting that the church has a mission to a world held captive by the enemy, a mission that will inevitably involve conflict and suffering.
Jesus Himself predicted this danger—“But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and the cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always” (Luke 21:34-36).