Have you ever considered Jesus’ words in the Book of Revelation: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches”?
Brethren, I don’t believe those words were meant solely for those seven churches mentioned in chapters two and three.
I strongly believe those words belong to us, the Church, right now in 2015.
Realizing that some may be offended, or think I’m taking wild potshots at ministers, ministries, and churches in America, I’ll say it up front.
I am not.
I’m not writing to offend or wound.
I’m simply trying to make sense of some things.
You see, just as Jesus stood in the midst of the candlesticks (representing the churches), I can see Him doing the same today. As He stood inspecting (“I know your works”, He’d say), He listed deficiencies and adequacies within each church.
And He’s standing in our midst, inspecting, saying,
“He who has ears, let them hear.”
“For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God.” (1 Peter 4:17 ESV)
But what could He possibly want us to hear? Would His message be one of affirmation only, or could there be a few words of reproof?
Can we even hear His voice? Are we prepared to hear words of correction, or would we, upon hearing such words, rise up and shout, “Get behind me, Satan!”?
Imagine what it must have been like back in the first century churches. They were people much like you and I. People who had learned how to play the church game; you know, do certain things, speak with a holy sounding voice, and ostracize everyone who doesn’t look or act exactly like you.
Well, not everyone acted that way, but some did. And not everyone acts that way today, but some do.
“You folks know how to recognize false apostles”, the Lord told the Ephesians. Quite the commendation, don’t you think?
I wonder if they were too busy slapping each other on the back to hear His next words, “But you’ve left your first love!”?
See what I mean? What would Jesus say to our churches? To our pastors?
Here are a few things I believe He’s saying; some of the same things He spoke to the brethren some 2000 years ago.
“I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:9-10 ESV)
Suffer? The devil attacking our church? Our parishioners? No!
Tribulation and poverty are not fun things to talk about. And I wonder how many people are members of our churches who aren’t genuinely born of God?
I don’t believe we ought to take a vow of poverty or invite persecution just so we can earn our “Badge of Holiness”. But all who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. And living right, doing right, seeking first the kingdom of God is much more important than living a life of comfort and ease; if a choice must be made between the two.
Could His words to us, the American Church, be somewhat like those mentioned above?
I know this; it would certainly be hard to grow a “dynamic, world-changing church” if a pastor repeated the words Jesus spoke to those in Smyrna.
I’ll stop for now. But read through the second and third chapters of Revelation and ask the Lord, “What are You really saying to us?”
I’ll write more later.
By the way: please comment. What do you believe we should be hearing from the Lord?