“Cool and collected, Kavya Shivashankar wrote out every word on her palm and always ended with a smile. The 13-year-old Kansas girl saved the biggest smile for last, when she rattled off the letters to “Laodicean” to become the nation’s spelling champion… After spelling the winning word, which means lukewarm or indifferent in religion or politics, Kavya got huge hugs from her father, mother and little sister.” “Kansas girl rides ‘Laodicean’ to National Spelling Bee victory” USA Today May 28, 2009.
How else do you spell “Laodicean”? See Revelation 3:14-22. For well over 100 years Seventh-day Adventists have had inspired counsel that tells us “Laodicean” means–
- To have great Biblical light and many opportunities yet not appreciate them. (Review & Herald, March 11, 1902)
- To be an “idler” in the Lord’s vineyard. (Manuscript 26, 1905)
- To think one has all the truth, who takes pride in their knowledge of the Word of God, while its sanctifying power has not been felt in their lives.(Review & Herald July 23, 1889)
- All who profess to keep the law of God, and yet are not doers of it. We are not to be selfish in anything. (Review & Herald Oct. 17, 1899).
- Those whose religious experience is insipid, who do not bear decided witness in favor of the truth (Letter 98, 1901).
- The ardor of the first love has lapsed into a selfish egotism. The love of Christ in the heart is expressed in the actions. If love for Christ is dull, the love for those for whom Christ has died will degenerate. There may be a wonderful appearance for zeal and ceremonies, but this is the substance of their self-inflated religion. Christ represents them as nauseating to His taste (Manuscript 61, 1898).
- Pride, worldly ambition, self-exaltation, double-dealing, hypocrisy, and deception. (Review & Herald Sept. 25, 1900).
- I have seen that it was not the design of the message to lead brother to sit in judgment over his brother, to tell him what to do, and just how far to go, but for each individual to search his own heart, and attend to his own individual work (Spiritual Gifts vol. 2 p. 223). (All quotations found in 7BC 961-962)
Christian musician Steve Camp expressed the situation well in his song “Living in Laodicea”–
- For I’ve been living in Laodicea
- And the fire that once burned bright, I’ve let it grow dim
- And the very Word I swore that I would die for all has been forgotten
- As the world’s become my friend
- We have turned from Your Law to try to find a better way
- Each man does today what is right in his own eyes
- We will pay the price for our sinning
- We can never know true living, we’ve exchanged His truth for lies
“Halfhearted Christians are worse than infidels; for their deceptive words and noncommittal position lead many astray. The infidel shows his colors. The lukewarm Christian deceives both parties. He is neither a good worldling nor a good Christian. Satan uses him to do a work that no one else can do.
“Love of self excludes the love of Christ. Those who live for self are ranged under the head of the Laodicean church who are lukewarm, neither cold nor hot. The ardor of the first love has lapsed into a selfish egotism. The love of Christ in the heart is expressed in the actions. If love for Christ is dull, the love for those for whom Christ has died will degenerate. There may be a wonderful appearance for zeal and ceremonies, but this is the substance of their self-inflated religion. Christ represents them as nauseating to His taste.
“Let us thank the Lord that while this class is so numerous, there is still time for repentance.” (Our High Calling p. 348)
When Kavya Shivashankar spelled “Laodicean” there were huge hugs from her father and family and celebrations by her hometown and state. Our heavenly Father tells us that will not be the case for Laodiceans in the last days. The 2009 National Spelling Bee is a reminder to all of us to take time for a serious, personal evaluation and spiritual heart check up. There is still time for repentance.