I’ve thoroughly enjoyed diving into Revelation 2-3 over the past seven weeks. As I noted before, we often overlook these very important chapters at the beginning and skip to the cosmic stuff that happens throughout the rest of the book. Yet Jesus gave seven clear, concise, and relevant messages to these ancient churches. In many ways, we still struggle with the same things they struggled with. We also may be gifted in the way these churches were, too. The important thing to glean from this study is that each church can speak life into your walk with Christ.
Here is a summary of what we have talked about for each week since August…
- Ephesus: Forgetting Your First Love– Christians in the Ephesian church were doing alright, except that they had forgotten what church was all about. Everything we do must be about Jesus Christ. He is the reason we have hope and are called to reach out in love to other people. Yet tragically in many churches, Christians today struggle with the temptation to make Christianity about something else other that Jesus. We all need to be reminded of the church of Ephesus to never forget our first love–Jesus Christ.
- Smyrna: Joy in Poverty– God never promised us worldly riches. God did promise us something much better, however, with a transformed life through Christ. As Jesus put it in Matthew’s gospel, we are called to store up treasures in heaven. So many times in our world we think that having more stuff will fill some void in our soul. Yet the church of Smyrna teaches us to have God’s joy in times of poverty, and even in times of persecution and hardship.
- Pergamum: Beware of False Teachers– Pergamum struggled with false teachings in their church community. The specific teachings of this church are difficult to pin down, but most likely dealt with sexual immorality and misunderstanding the role of God’s grace in faith. Likewise, we looked at modern day false teachings and how it is not true that God loves some more than others, or that church is a place for people who have it all figured out!
- Thyatira: False Prophetess– Just like Pergamum, Thyatira dealt with its fair share of false teachings, most notably with someone Jesus called Jezebel. We looked back at the Old Testament in 1-2 Kings to see Jezebel’s tragic story of what happens when we continually reject God’s guidance. Thyatira warns us to seek repentance and pursue Jesus.
- Sardis: It’s Time to Wake Up– Sardis was the sleepy church! Jesus commanded them to wake up, and likewise cautions us to wake up today as well. God calls us to wake up from sin and death, and to realize we need salvation in the first place. God calls us to wake up to Jesus’ mission of redeeming all creation. And God also calls us to wake up and live life to the fullest by being fully present through a relationship with Christ.
- Philadelphia: Steadfast in Faith– The church of Philadelphia taught us that faith often takes time and endurance. In other words, we cannot rush it or suddenly have everything fixed. Just like a slow-cooked gumbo, we need the time to soak in the teachings of the gospel, as well as form Christlike character as we interact with our world.
- Laodicea: Dangers of Being Lukewarm– We often feel neither hot nor cold with our faith. We often assume (just like the Christians in Laodicea) that we are too good for God’s grace. Likewise, God wants to energize us and give us a passion for Godly living.
Take some time today to think about which church you resonate with. Do any of the struggles of a particular church seem applicable to you? What is Jesus speaking to you that might be found in these scripture passages?