Monday, November 06, 2017

The Suffering Church

Their suffering increased their riches in Jesus' eyes.

Revelation 2:8-11 "Write this letter to the angel of the church in Smyrna. This is the message from the One who is the First and the Last, who was dead but is now alive: 9 "I know about your suffering and your poverty--but you are rich! I know the blasphemy of those opposing you. They say they are Jews, but they are not, because their synagogue belongs to Satan.

10 Don't be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The devil will throw some of you into prison to test you. You will suffer for ten days. But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life. 11 "Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what He is saying to the churches. Whoever is victorious will not be harmed by the second death.

It is easy for the cool and comfortable church to draw big crowds and be successful in the ways that man measures success but that isn't the kind of church that Jesus is pleased with. The church that did not get any reprimand from Jesus was the church that was the least cool and comfortable.

The church at Smyrna was doing church right, all of the potential trouble makers are already long gone from this congregation, if church isn't going to be cool and comfortable then the hypocrites are not going to stick around. The casual attenders that rarely come except at Christmas and Easter are not going to attend this church.
Eighty and six years have I served Him and He has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me? You threaten me with the fire that burns for a time and is quickly quenched, for you do not know the fire which awaits the wicked in the judgment to come and in everlasting punishment. Why are you waiting? Come do what you will.
The members of the congregation were persecuted by the Romans and the Jews. They were persecuted by one group for refusing to say, “Caesar is Lord” and the other group persecuted them for saying "Jesus is Lord." The Romans would take away absolutely every material possession for not bowing to Caesar and the Jews would throw them out of the synagogue for their belief in Jesus. Historians tell us that Smyrna was the location of mass executions of Christians who refused to bow their knee to Caesar.
2 Corinthians 6:10 Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.
Just as the church is Ephesus appeared to be an awesome church through the eyes of man the church in Smyrna seemed to be poor from a human perspective but Jesus saw them differently. God's ways are always opposite from our ways, in God's economy the poor are rich, the lost are found and the dead are alive and the circumcised are the uncircumcised. (Romans 2:27-29, John 8:44)

Their stand for Jesus caused them to lose everything but in reality their suffering only increased their riches. This church was serious about storing up riches that the world cannot take away. (Matthew 6:19-21, James 1:12)
“To everyone wanting a safe, untroubled, comfortable life free from danger, stay away from Jesus. The danger in our lives will always increase in proportion to the depth of our relationship with Christ. Maybe this is why we sit back and settle for a casual relationship with Christ and routine religion in the church. It is safe there, and the world likes us there. The world likes us when we are pursuing everything they are pursuing, even if we do put a Christian label on it. As long as Christianity looks like the American dream, we will have few problems in this world.”
-International Mission Board President David Platt
The prized American dream can get in the way of our dreams of working for our eternal kingdom. We have our roots dug down so deep that it doesn't look like we are planning to leave. If we really believe our Bibles then we should live like we are leaving and we should be sending our treasures ahead of time instead of being so attached to the world's treasures.

The church in America should use it's freedoms to serve more and make disciples more zealously both in our country and abroad. If your church is a cool place to be where life is easy and safe and the biggest persecution that you have is from another church attender that doesn't affirm your worship preferences then your church is due for a makeover.