What Jesus Would Say to Churches Today
Over the past several weeks we have been studying the seven churches of Asia (Rev. 2-3) together. Jesus, speaking through inspiration of John the Apostle, helps us to understand not only what He sees in the church of Christ, but what He expects of us as well. These powerful messages ought to cause modern-day congregations to re-evaluate their attitudes in light of Scripture. Let’s review what the Lord said:
Don’t lose your focus (Rev. 2:1-7) — The church at Ephesus was doctrinally sound, but the Lord told them they had, “left their first love” (Rev. 2:4). Here was a congregation that had stopped making an impact in the world (cf. Acts 19:17-20) because they had turned inward. Doctrine is important (2 Jn. 9), but so are the souls of men (Mk. 8:36)! May God help all churches to understand the urgency of the gospel message.
Count the cost (Rev. 2:8-11) — At Smyrna, persecution was bad and about to get worse (Rev. 2:9-10). One stirring principle underlies what the Lord says to this congregation: we will not be faithful in trials unless we have first considered what Christianity costs us. Jesus gave up everything to save us, He expects the same kind of commitment from us!
It DOES matter what you believe (Rev. 2:12-17) — The church at Pergamum had done its share of Christian living. One prominent member had even been martyred for the cause of Christ (Rev. 2:13). However, some in the congregation had adopted strange beliefs that led to ungodly practices (Rev. 2:14-15). The message to Pergamum is this: what you believe will ultimately be expressed in how you live. Despite so many today who are teaching that doctrine doesn’t matter, the Lord affirms that it does.
Do not take the “easy” way in life (Rev. 2:18-29) — The church at Thyatira had a false teacher in her midst who was teaching people that they could live with one foot in the world and one in the church (Rev. 2:19-20). Far too many people find it easier to rationalize their ungodly lifestyles than to conform to God’s will. Too many find it easier to compromise their character than to live with genuine integrity. Such cannot be pleasing to the Lord!
Beware of becoming comfortable in your Christianity (Rev. 3:1-6) — At Sardis, the church was evidently busy with many programs, activities, and ministries, and yet despite this “busyness,” Jesus declares, “you are dead” (Rev. 3:1). The problem? Sardis had become comfortable with the status quo and had begun to rest on her sterling reputation built in the past. We cannot live the Christian life while staring in the rear-view mirror. When we’re comfortable, the devil has got us right where he wants us!
Always look for the opportunities about you (Rev. 3:7-13) — Philadelphia was a faithful church, but the Lord admonished them to see the potential in their present circumstances. Dark clouds of tribulation were looming on the horizon (Rev. 3:9-10), and yet Jesus sounds amazingly optimistic about the future in this passage! We too ought to learn to see the possibilities about us. In the strength of Jesus (Phil. 4:13), we can overcome.
Be honest about your faith (Rev. 3:14-22) — Lots of people are living a lie. They fancy themselves dedicated servants when in reality they are spiritually malnourished and lukewarm. Jesus rebukes Laodicea for their self-deception and tells them to honestly assess and reaffirm their commitment to being New Testament Christians (Rev. 3:18-19). May all of us have the courage, honesty, and integrity to examine ourselves whether we be in the faith (2 Cor 13:5)! — John Baker