Jesus’ is concerned with the wholeness of his church. And his 7 messages to the 7 churches teach us about the wholeness we’re to have. Today the first 4. Tomorrow the last 3.
The church in Ephesus did a good job of flushing out those who were false apostles. They took Paul seriously in his last statement to them in Acts 20. He told them there would be wolves among them. And to not give into the false teachings.
And, boy, they did everything they could to keep the church pure. From both those who were false in their teaching and false in their practice. The Nicolaitans were most likely people who indulged in “love feasts” in the name of Christianity. What are “love feasts”? Well, closest concept we have would be an orgy. The church in Ephesus considered this sin. And for this, God congratulated them! Because these are good things!
But in their hyper-focus on who was right and who was wrong, they got the core of who they are off track. They lost sight of their first love. Their love for God. Their love for people. We can be right and be right the wrong way.
The reminder is to keep our focus on our love for God and people. Do what we do from the perspective of love. We will work to keep the church pure, but also work to treat people with grace.
Poor but Rich
Smyrna is one of two churches who God has nothing negative to say. Both churches wouldn’t be the churches getting the headlines. They were poor and powerless.
And yet, God has nothing for these churches to repent from. They were to continue doing what they were doing. They were to continue holding onto Jesus through their tribulation.
I hold onto this as encouragement. Not that we’re facing persecution. But that we don’t have all of what other churches have. But we don’t see behind the scenes of the other situations. Don’t focus on what we don’t have. Focus on what God has placed in front of us. Oh, this is a message I need right now!
Unlike Ephesus, Pergamum gave into the teaching of the Nicolaitans. And the letter to this church gives us more context to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Jesus specifically talks about eating and sexual activity. Sounds like love feasts.
They were to repent. Jesus calls this out as sin. He says he’ll come and war against them. So this is pretty serious! And yet all they need is repentance. Repentance isn’t promising to never do it again. It isn’t simply saying they were wrong. But repentance is confession with action. Confess our sin. Desire something greater than chasing sexual sin. And take steps to find Infinity Life through Jesus.
But also remember repentance isn’t a promise of perfection. God gives grace in the middle of repentance. Desire a manna greater than the “manna” of sexual sin.
For Thyatira, Jesus is clear in his consequences. There is someone among them, a Jezebel-like person, who is teaching the church sexual activity is a deeper teaching of Jesus. And apparently this sexual activity has to be with her.
If they didn’t take care of this, Jesus would through consequences. She would be thrown into the sick bed. And anyone else who commits adultery with her. He will strike her children dead. This could be literal children. Or it cold be her children of her teaching. I’m more inclined to go with the second interpretation.
Sin has consequences. Not all consequences are immediate. But just because consequences do not pounce quickly doesn’t mean they’re not waiting in the weeds. Repentance before consequences alleviates consequences.
Jesus promises rewards when we repent and Hear & Follow. Rewards that are beyond the reward of the sin. Love God. Love people. Focus on what is before us. Repent. And beware of consequences. Tomorrow we’ll look at 3 more teachings Jesus gives the church for their wholeness.
Throughout this year (Aug. 2016-Aug. 2017), CrossPoint will be reading through the New Testament. We are doing this because we’re learning about the Church and the New Testament is the handbook for the church. Therefore, join us as we follow this reading plan. Today’s reading is from Revelation 2.