“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.” Revelation 2: 11
Ironically, the city of Smyrna was known for their faithfulness to Rome, but its church started to withdraw their faithfulness to our Lord! So, even though the churches of Smyrna and Philadelphia were the only two fully praised by Christ, they still had to heed to Christ and listen or they too will start to fall like the other five.
Jesus earned the right to be listened to. Not just by being God, Creator; conversely, as this passage reminds us, He lived life in purity and sinlessness for our benefit, to enable us to have eternal life and partake in His fellowship. He knows us more intimately that we can imagine and desires that we be with Him and glorify Him fully. Yet, we tend not to listen to Him in our personal lives and how we lead and mange His Church. Many leaders today tend to fill His call with the void of our stubbornness, recklessness, and selfishness.
Yet, Jesus is there, guiding us with a beacon that says I know your pain, I felt your pain, I have experienced your pain and I feel your pain now, too. He has taken our pain away. The tribulations we face are not the things that can derail us from Him; rather, they can form us more of Him in maturity and character.
He who has an ear. God means what He says (Ezek. 33:30-32; James 1: 21-27; 2 Pet. 1: 3-11)! This also means that God fulfills His promises. Do you take His Word seriously, learning and applying it? If not, why not?
Like the style of an O.T. Prophet and the oracles against the corrupt king and priesthood, issuing the call to repentance. Jesus calls to us “let’s get it right”. Jesus directly challenges these early churches with an application us, in how we operate our church, what we doing right, where we are straying away from His call and precepts, what is heinous about us, and what we can do to get back on track. Christ is here, caring, and is present in our church (Isa. 13-23; Jer. 46-51; Ezek. 25-32; Amos 2-4)!
“Synagogue of Satan,” meaning being an apostate is referring to the local Synagogue and of Jews who were very antagonistic to the Christians as they refused to acknowledge Christ as the Messiah and who called the Christians a Synagogue of Satan.
Jesus is passionately concerned with what we do and how we do with the leadership of His Church, and wants to be intimately involved (Matt. 7:20; 10:16; 2 Tim. 2:15; 1 John 4:1).
So what does this come down to?
The perspective in each of these letters is not just about future happenings, the Seven Churches were real, actual churches with tangible problems. Thus, the first four chapters of Revelation is also a practical guidebook on how to run a successful church and how to avoid the potholes that make a bad church. Each of these seven churches had characteristics that are a template to any church you can worship in today. These churches were real “alive” and “dead” churches that yours, in its vision and operation, are a footprint thereof. So, which one is yours? Which one are you called to be among today?
In Christian leadership, we are to hunger for righteousness and seeking the depths of God’s love, the Word and virtue, and in so doing, being committed to continue allowing yourself to grow in maturity, to be transformed, and to be renewed. At the same time, it is not allowing personal circumstances to disrupt your faith (Matt. 5:3-6; Rom. 12:1-3; 2 Cor. 8:8-12; Phil. 2:5-9).
We have to ask ourselves, are we operating to the opposite tune that Jesus commands as this Synagogue and the church of Smyrna were starting to?
When we seek to engage His church on our own, we turn it into a church of evil, as it will be diametrically opposed to Christ, as Satan is opposed to Him. We may not be worshipping Satan, but when we run the church by our ways and agendas, we are, in fact, worshipping Satan, because Christ is not only ignored, He is being opposed! Just as this Smyrna was a church where people’s agendas were in opposition to Christ’s. They had sufferings to overcome and learn from, but most chose to run the course their way and tarnish His Way.
Let us learn, refocus and always and joyfully point ourselves and church to Christ as LORD!
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4