The letter to the church in Laodicea is the last of the seven letters in Revelation 2 and 3. The church was confident that it was healthy and prosperous, but Jesus thinks otherwise. He sees them as a needy church, maybe the neediest of the seven.
Why were the Laodiceans so self-assured? Maybe it was because their city was living a special time:
Under the Romans, the city flourished, situated as it was at the juncture of three important trade routes. The richest city in the area, Laodicea refused all aid offered by the Romans after the earthquake of A.D. 60, even though all of the surrounding cities gladly accepted the government funds and tax exemptions. Laodicea was a banking center; Roman statesman Cicero was able to cash his letters of credit when visiting the city in 50 B.C. It was an industrial center, home to important textile manufacturing. The water around Laodicea was rich in minerals and was especially suited for the dyeing of wool; Laodicea became known for a high-grade black wool, known for its sheen and softness. At least four types of garments were made from this wool and marketed around the world. Guilds and trade unions were influential and numerous in Laodicea, one of them called “The Most August Guild of the Wool Washers.” The other source of fame was that, like Pergamum, Laodicea had an outstanding medical school. This school was known for the Tephra Phrygia, a salve for the eyes which was sold in tablet form and exported throughout the Roman empire. Prepared from poppies which grew around Laodicea, the powder was shaped into little rolls called kollurion, a Greek word which appears in Revelation 3:18.
(Letters From The Lamb, pp. 149-50)
When Jesus wrote to the church, he told them that they weren’t rich at all, that they were wretched, pitiful and poor. To this rich city, Jesus tells them they need to buy pure gold from him. To this textile center, he tells them that they are naked and need to buy clothes from him. To this center famous for eye salve, he tells them they are blind and need to buy eye medicine from him.
The two richest churches of the group receive no praise from Jesus. What the world counts as riches mean nothing to Jesus. Our treasure is not measured with dollar signs. Having stuff tends to create more of a barrier between us and God. In the parable of the sower, Jesus talked about the deceitfulness of riches that could choke out the faith of the Christian. The church in Laodicea seems to be a living example of that trap.