The Book of Revelation and Church Leadership, PXIII

Church of Pergamum bThe Church of Pergamum

Read Revelation 2: 12-17

“To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives.” Revelation 2: 12-13

What would happen if your church became a place of contention and hurt? Why is it so important that our churches be safe havens of rest and comfort so that people can worship and mature in Christ and be secure in Him and in companionship with others?

John in this passage is reminding them and us who Christ is and what He has done. He is depicted here as the One in authority who can look into ourselves, pierce us, and who knows who we are and what we want. Then, Jesus calls us to Him and away from ourselves and selfishness. Just as a sword is sharp and piercing, so are our wayward ways when we seek to make life and run His church by our own means, apart from His ways and commands. Such thoughts and actions separate us from God and others, just as our judgment for sin, without receiving His grace, will separate us for eternity. God doesn’t want us separated, but He will do this to protect His other children, just as He will separate those who seek to harm us. This is His protection, and it is our choice to draw to Him or draw to our inclinations and sin.

Double-edged sword, refers to a small offensive “Thracian” dagger. For the Romans, this sword was the image of power, control, and used to enforce its laws and for capital punishment. In Scripture, the sword also symbolizes war and refers to God’s ability and right to make war on those who seek to fight against Him. It symbolizes God’s ability and right to perform judgment (Isa 49:2; Heb 4:12; Rev. 2:12; 6:4, 8; 13:10, 14; 19:15, 21). (Rev. 1:16; 2:16; 19:13).

Satan has his throne. This referred to either its pagan practices or the seat of the Roman throne for Asia. Pergamum worshiped the god Asclepius, who was Apollo’s son, the god of medicine. In addition, this city was the official center of emperor worship and Rome’s representation in Asia. They also had a huge100 foot+ altar for Zeus. Perhaps Jesus referred to this as Satan’s throne because they worshipped what was false. All its citizens were expected to worship these false gods, including worshiping the emperor. If they refused, they were persecuted by not being allowed to participate in the city life, festivals, and trade. This escalated to the Christians being executed for disloyalty to the emperor. And, this trend was exported to the other providences. Perhaps it was here in Pergamum that martyrdom started in Asia.

Who was Antipas? He was the first martyr in Asia. According to the Early Church Fathers, he was slowly roasted alive in a bronze kettle during the time of Domitian.

So what does this come down to?

The church at Pergamum was tolerating false doctrines and people who were scheming against others, causing them to follow sin, trends, compromise their faith, and not reverence or trust in Christ.

Even though they were faithful in persecution, their steadfastness was wavering to those who were deceptive. They were being what we now call “politically correct,” that is, tolerating other ideas that were wrong or contrary just to be what they thought was mature and wise. Thus, they were in danger of being judged harshly if they did not repent. We have to see that we can be tolerant to a point, as long as it does not counter our character or the Word.

Reflection

Instead of tolerating false doctrines and people who were scheming we are called to be a Faithful witness.

This is also a name for Jesus, referring that Jesus is reliable. We are to be reliable with His Word and plan. It also refers that Antipas was faithful to Christ in character and disposition, as we are all called to be as we lead others to Him (Psalm 2:7; 89:27; Prov. 14:5, 25; Isa. 8:2; Acts 13:33; Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 15:20-23; Col. 1:15-18; 1 Tim. 6:13; Rev. 1:5; 2:10-13; 3:14).

Consider this, Jesus knows us intimately; He knows our situation, our struggles and our opportunities. He wants us to take hold of His grace and love so we can focus upon Him and lean on Him both in our jubilations and also in our struggles. The key in this passage is to stay faithful in our Christian identity and our leadership of others, and to remain loyal to Christ. We are not to allow our doubts, fears, or state of affairs to occupy His place in our hearts and minds.

Jesus knows our situation, our struggles, and our opportunities. He wants us to take hold of His grace and love and succeed in our faith and life. How can this help you to inspire others when times are tough?

 

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The Book of Revelation and Church Leadership, PXII

beatitudes-righteousnessRead Revelation 2: 8-11

“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).

Reflection

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

The Book of Revelation and Church Leadership, PXI

church of Smyrna

“‘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….” Revelation 2: 9-10

 

Read Revelation 2: 8-11 

How would you appraise your church from this letter to the church in Smyrna? 

“Smyrna” is a Greek word for myrrh, a bitter herb used both as an anointing oil, and for embalming, and was one of the gifts the wise men brought to Jesus as a young child (Ex. 30:23; Esth. 2:12; Psalm 45:8; Prov. 7:17; Matt. 2:11; John 19:39). 

The churches of Smyrna and Philadelphia were the only two of the seven that were fully praised by Christ. Even though Smyrna was praised, they were treading on dangerous ground. They were starting to be bitter as their name applies. After facing much persecution, they became belligerent against Christ and turned against one another, forsaking their call and duty. They had the opportunity to learn and grow from their situation, but instead, they chose bitterness and strife. They embraced fearfulness instead of faithfulness.

Like the church of Smyrna, we will all face sufferings and trials. It is not the questioning of them to help us cope, but how we learn and deal with them that help shape our spiritual formation.

The trials we face will be used to enrich our own lives and make us a beacon to help others in their trials, too. When we cave in to our fears, we will only be insolvent in real poverty, bankrupted spiritually because of our opposition to Christ as our Lord and Sustainer.

These letters to the seven churches echo the good, the bad, and the ugly in all churches.

Jesus directly challenges them, and us, in how we operate our church, what we doing right, where we are straying, 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! He is passionately concerned with what we do and how we do it, and wants to be intimately involved (Matt. 7:20; 10:16; 2 Tim. 2:15; 1 John 4:1).

“Church” means a body of believers who come together for worship, instructions, and to serve. This does not refer to a building. Many churches have many different types of people, liturgies, and government. Many are not always true Christians or have God’s interests at heart; rather, they are driven by personal agendas or trends that are contrary to the precepts of our Lord. Jesus is attacking our placing personal agendas and power struggles over His lead!

Smyrna, now called Izmir in Turkey, was a beautiful, large, prosperous, and loyal city and the center of the Emperor worship practice. Furthermore, there was a tough, antagonistic Jewish Synagogue there, giving the Christians a squeeze in the middle of persecution and hostility. The city officials were betraying and falsely accusing the Christians. The Jews kicked them out of their fellowship, a scandalous act for a Jew.

This Smyrna church was composed of people who were burnt out and were starting to lose their faithfulness.

Thus, instead of continuing to fight the ravages of persecution with trust and obedience to Christ, they decided to ignore His precepts and do their own thing. Even though they professed to worship and honor Christ, they did not do so fully in their deeds and attitudes (2 Cor. 4:4). They were once a vibrant, healthy church, but were starting to die.

This city of Smyrna was destroyed and laid in ruins, then rebuilt, as in resurrected (800-300 BC). The application is that a dead or dying church with faithful, Christ-empowered people can be turned around and resurrected! John’s disciple, Polycarp, became the Bishop there and did resurrect it until he was martyred 30 or so years later (or at this time, depending how you date Revelation-another proof for a late date for Revelation if he is the “Angel”).

So what does this come down to? 

Your church can remain faithful no matter what, if you are focused on Christ as LORD and not circumstances!

The troubles we face can cause us to fear so we seek to cover them up with our pride and/or bitterness. We try to go it alone when Christ is beckoning us to trust in Him, go His Way, and give our fears to Him. When we refuse to heed His call, it will just be a short time until we are thrown away, given to the devil, since we are working for him anyway. Ironically, our sufferings are far less of a venture and sentence than our poor choices.

When we work our lives and church with our corrupt personal power we are in fact abandoning His power and Fruit. Consider this: when we are independent from Christ in our personal lives and in running our churches, we are forsaking and opposing Him. Thus, it is not that much of a stretch or even a job relocation to be a church of Satan, since we are already such a place. But, when we trust in Him, He will give us the strength to endure.

Reflection

How can the fact that Jesus knows us more intimately that we can imagine, and desires us to be in Him strengthen your churches collective faithfulness? What can you do to grow your church in this area and to glorify Him more fully?

When we are faithful, we become beacons of hope and encouragement to others, too. We will become lifesavers, thrown to those who are drowning. Christ will use us in the plights of others as hands to grab on to and pull others up when they are sinking. But, if we are not faithful, there is no outstretched hand, only missed opportunities and an infamy to a community, a life wasted, a church of dysfunction, and a crown of shame instead of a crown of life. God asks us to be conquerors and faithful witnesses to whom and what He is! We cannot do that as a church of Satan!

 

The Book of Revelation and Church Leadership, PX

 love lost bRead Revelation 2: 1-7 

Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”  Revelation 2: 5

How would you appraise your church from this letter to the church in Ephesus? What is your church doing right as listed here, and what is it doing wrong? 

Keep in mind as you read Revelation, it was a letter written to the Seven Churches of Asia Minor, which is now modern, but has implications and applications to our church and lives today Turkey (Rev. 1:4, 11). 

The church in Ephesus was both good and bad. They were doing some good because of their endurance in persecution. They did not tolerate false teaching or those with bad agendas that were contrary to God’s precepts. They were doing so well, most people in their busy-ness who would go to a church like this might not have noticed anything was missing. Or, perhaps they would be the victim of the ugly that happens when a key component of doing Church is left out. They had discernment, but had trouble with loving.

They lost the most important thing about being in Christ-the Fruit of His Love flowing through us so it touches others.

No amount of sacrifice or good teaching can make up for a lack of love! People see Christ by how we exhibit character and love, and this church was not doing that. Then, Jesus passionately challenged them to get back to Him, get back to loving. To solidify His point and the importance of love, He warned them that if they refused to love, they would be refusing Him, and that they would be judged for it.

I hold this against you… first love… Forsaken. They had forgotten the most important aspect of a church! This may also mean they had bad attitudes, too, that they were once enthusiastic but now are apathetic. They stopped the love that they had for Christ and for one another. They abandon, as in abandoning a child. There, love was left out. Sound doctrine without love and care is like salt poured in dirt; it is useless (Jer. 2:2; 1 John 4; Rev. 2:19).

Repent. Jesus is calling them back to His love. He asks them to remember who they are and Who He is, to hold on to Him and to dwell in Him.

When we slip, it is gradual and we do not notice; sometimes, we do not care or see this as a problem. Thus, to call us back, Jesus sometimes must threaten judgment unless we start running our churches as they and we have been called to do. Like yelling at a child running into the street who is not looking or listening. This is serious business! If an unloving church repents, it can be saved and rebooted to serve and glorify Christ. If not, it will close and be a rotten memory to the community and to Christ! So, deliberate with our leadership how is your church at loving?

Who are the Nicolaitans? They were a heretical group that venerated Jezebel and Balaam with their horrible demeanor, false teachers, and manipulators. They also were experimenting with Gnosticism, believing that their Christian liberty gave them the freedom to practice sin, idolatry, immorality, and engage fully the pagan culture while remaining Christians (Acts 6:5). What angered Jesus further is that they taught they were “improving” Christianity by teaching people to compromise their faith so they could join in the culture and avoid persecution. ”

So what does this come down to?

Does this sound like the new liberalism infesting the church today to tell us to compromise on Biblical principles?

Nicolaitan” means conquer the people. Apparently, this church also micromanaged and lorded over its people just as a cult does today, which is also very bad and ugly (Matt. 21:20-27; 23:1-12; Acts 6:5).

The Spirit means hear the Word of God. It refers to the vision of the prophecy and perhaps the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, too (Amos 3:1; 4:1; 5:1; Rev. 1:10; 14:13).

We are told that we can conquer like winning an athletic event or military campaign. To persevere in the face of adversity and being better for it. This does not mean we earn our salvation nor have any effect regarding it; rather, it means to be faithful.

Reflection

Our growth in Him demonstrates our faith; it is our growth in Christ that keeps us here on this earth. No matter what is facing us and no matter what we have experienced, what we go through in life is meant to form our character and maturity. What we learn is what we carry into eternity. When we fail and do not overcome, it is disappointing in our Lord’s sight. Being faithful is the key that opens to us the door to living in the New Jerusalem (John 13:34; 16:33; Phil. 1; 1 John 4:20; 5:4-5; Rev. 2:11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; 21:1-22:5).

What can you do to carefully and seriously examine your own church so you are all doing your best for His highest? What would it take to make the needed improvements? How would the people in your church handle some examination?

“My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God” Psalm 84:2.

The Book of Revelation and Church Leadership, PIX

revelation 2 3

Read Revelation 2: 1-7

You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.” Revelation 2:4

Revelation was written to the Seven Churches of Asia Minor, which is now modern Turkey (Rev. 1:4, 11). The principle purpose for the writing is to encourage and chastise the Christians for how they were running their churches (Rev. 2:1-3:22). John was fully convinced that Christ would triumph over the forces of Satan and his work in the world. He then exhorted them to be faithful and discerning between what is false and what is truth, and warned them not to worship the Emperor or to comply with evil, apathy, or compromise. He restated the importance of discipleship and Christian formation so they (we) could be authentic Christians of excellence and distinction, bringing no disrepute to Christ or His Church. 

Consequently, God’s purpose in the first two chapters of Revelation is not to be condescending or judgmental. Rather, it is to offer hope and encouragement to the Church, who have not grown weary, as they did not to give up hard work and ethics. Then, show us how the leadership of these churches function from God’s view, so to give us a heads up where and what we are to focus on. As Jesus reprimands what we do wrong and compliments what we do right.

Thus, Revelation gives instructions to the seven churches and ours. At the same time, point out the issues and problems so we can address them and move from our ways to His Ways.

The Church of Ephesus was in the Roman capital of Asia Minor. It was located near modern Istanbul, Turkey. Its ruins are still visible today. It was once a jewel of a city with a population of 250,000. It had to move many times due to the rising of the ocean levels and nearby river silts, which have since receded. Ephesus means “Cayster” the god of the river. John himself may have planted this church, and Paul lived there for three years ministering to them while he wrote the Epistle of Ephesians. Now, it is only a small village where the ruins remain in sight (Acts 18:19-20, 26; 19:8-9, 8-38; Eph. 1:1-3, 15; 1 Tim. 1:3).

Jesus gives them encouragement on what they are doing well! They persevered in turbulent times!

Perseverance means having confidence in God so we trust Him in difficult situations and still see His grace and love. Perseverance is not being faint with relationships or within situations, but being able to persist in dealing with stress so we can accomplish what God calls us to. We can do this by being encouraging with Christ-like temperament (2 Chron. 32:1-8; Esther 7; Luke 16:22-31; 18:9; Acts 19:8-10; 26:19-23; Rom. 15:14-16; Gal. 6:9; Phil. 1:6; 12-14, 25; 2 Tim. 2:25; James 5:7-12).

Endured means God shows patience by tolerating our misdeeds for a time for the sake of others who will benefit from it by their faith being strengthened. Our endurance will communicate encouragement for our staying power; it is contagious as in “you can do it, too!” When God seems far away and no one seems to care about injustice or your concerns, God is still there caring! He will vindicate and care for you, turning your suffering into His glory and a benefit to others, too (Prov. 6:9; Rom. 9:14-29; 2 Pet. 3:9)!

Tested infers that we are called to test for correct doctrine, and the importance for any church to be giving real, dependable, true teaching (1 Cor. 14:29; 1 Thess. 5:21; 2 Peter 3; 1 John 4:1).

Reflection 

Accordingly, we today can learn from these churches and recenter the ones we lead back to our first love. But, if we just sit and point fingers at problems, ignore them, rationalize they are OK, or worry we might offend people and do nothing about fixing them, we do the Church, God, and ourselves a disservice. We are called to know what we are doing and His precepts so we can be better for His glory.

Let’s take a hard look at our church and see where we are with what He has called us to, and have the courage and fortitude to fix what we are not doing right so we can seek being our best for His glory.

 

Reverence in Leadership

reverence b“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:28

Proverbs tells us that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. This type of fear is not being scared, or fearful of what will happen, nor is it distrust or terror of God. Rather, it is reverence and awe that fuels our worship and faith.

Why is this so important in church leadership? It is all about Who we lead others to!

Reverence is the understanding of the wonder and majesty of our incredible God, who transcends time and space, and who is bigger than the entire universe He created, yet, He personally knows and loves us with deeper and more love than we could ever comprehend. We need to keep this on the front burner of our mindset as we lead and manage His Church. Reverence to God is how we are to live, lead, disciple and teach the people God brings us! If not we, are being reverent only to ourselves, ideas and goals, keeping Him out of the loop of our lives and church. This is a prime factor for why many churches are in decline. There is no leading to the incredible green pasture of our Lord, just wallowing in the past, pride, apathy and infighting.

Read leading is directing others to a destination, what is yours? Is it to be on the path that Christ has laid out? Is it moving others in the love and care and learning on that journey of faith? If not, what are you doing?

In the Old Testament, the stipulation of this ‘fear’ was put to the Jews so they follow God and stick to the Covenant. The Covenant, we have now is grace; the stipulation is that we accept it by faith. The growth of our fear (awe) is the response with gratitude to His Majesty.  Thus, reverence will enable us to take the incredible knowledge of His Majesty, and applying it to our lives first, so we will walk with confidence in our Lord, and as we lead operate with respect to Him in our teaching and administration, and to the others around us whom He knows and loves.

Reverence leads to real worship and effectual leadership because we can acknowledge whom God is, and respond!

This is the only way we can lead biblically and effectually, to surrender our will to Christ as LORD! As His created being, saved by His grace from a destiny we created and deserved, we have an obligation to give Him all of our honor, all our praise, and all our adoration. This is the reason for the primary purpose of our saved lives–to give God the glory that is rightly due Him.

Why must we? Because He is the Holy, Sovereign, the Creator (Duet. 7:21; Neh. 4:14; Psalm 48:1; 86:10; 95:3; 97:2; 145:3; Dan. 9:4; 1 Cor. 13:12; Heb. 12:28,29)!

Too many Christian leaders have neglected the basics of the faith, replacing it with new teachings and trends, or neglect good teaching all together. They forget who God is, and who we are in Christ. If we do not know who God is and what our call and responsibilities are, then how are we to grow in our faith, in maturity, and in character, not to mention in leading others in the direction of God’s call? We can’t!

The Book of Revelation and Church Leadership, PVIII

love lostRead Revelation 2: 1-7

These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstandsYet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.” Revelation 2: 1, 4

How important is it to you to be loved? How important is it to you to love others? How does your church show love? How are these three connected? If you get this, you can grow your church! Thus, consider the ways your church can do to make sure you are a golden lampstand that radiates Christ’s love, and never forget or lose our first love? 

John is asked to write a letter to seven churches, giving them encouragements, blessings, and condemnations. These are areas we all must carefully and seriously examine our own church to see if we are doing our best for His highest! As you read Revelation, consider that each of these seven churches is an actual church, then, and a representation of every church that has ever been, including yours. Read Revelation 2-3 and examine and pray, which one are you?

The letter is a clear proclamation of the sovereignty and eminence of Christ, who stands in authority and judgment to show that He is in charge, that He does care, and that we need to get aligned with His will or else suffer the consequences. His Church is His Church; it does not belong to us even though we are the Church in unity and being. We belong to Him with a distinction and a purpose, we must heed, take to heart, and practice to the best of our abilities and endeavors.

Thus, we need to have the mindset we are in worship and disciple and be effectual stewards of this endeavor to glorify Christ. 

Golden lampstands” refers to God’s Light, as the Church is the light to the world for God’s Glory. Christ is the destiny and pattern we follow and emulate. This shows His care, that Jesus is God and omniscient (all knowing and all seeing), and the One who is to inspire us, lead us and Who we worship.

So, why do so many churches fail and close down?

Because we did not do as we are called to do and as the letter states, as the warning proclaims, remove your lampstand. Judgment will be at hand soon, unless they repent!  The same for us, unless…  Jesus threatens them with judgment if they do not start to love again! This is also a parody of words, since the city of Ephesus had to be removed and then moved. So, is your church a golden lampstand or one whose has flamed out? All you have to do is repent and catch the love again (1 Cor. 13; 1 Thess. 1:3). 

So, keep in mind the principle purpose of the writing is to encourage and chastise them for how they were running their churches (Rev. 2:1-3:22). Which should cause us to heed how we run the ones we are called to steward?

John restated the importance of discipleship and Christian formation so they (we) could be authentic Christians of excellence and distinction, bringing no disrepute to Christ or His Church.

Jesus ends this letter with the importance of listening and heeding His precepts. God wants His Church to succeed, He wants you to succeed. John was fully convinced that Christ would triumph over the forces of Satan and his work in the world. As can we. He then exhorted them to be faithful and discerning between what is false and what is truth, and warned them not to worship the Emperor or to comply with evil, apathy, or compromise.

So what does this come down to?

We are to allow the flow of the Holy Spirit, and to be Love led, Sprit-led and Word led, not self-led, especially with how we lead the Church. A church can only be successful as long as love is penetrating and being modeled from its leadership and members with a zeal for Christ and His love. When love is lost, so is the church (1 Cor. 13; 1 John 4:19)! 

Reflection 

Why do you suppose this church in Ephesus had trouble with loving? Do you think people could become victims of the ‘ugly’ that happens when a key component of doing church is left out? 

What does it mean to your church that Jesus is in charge and that He does care for you? How can this help you be aligned more with His will?

What if your church refuses to heed Christ as Lord? Does He have the right to judge your church? Would you deserve to suffer the consequences? Why do many Christians feel the answers to these questions is “no?” 

What are you going to do now about God’s call to heed Him and love them?