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. 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!
When we go through the troubles of life, we can either take shelter in Him or seek to go it alone in our fears and pride. When we seek to do His church on our own, we turn it into a church of evil, as 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! 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.
Questions to Ponder:
1. Why is Smyrna being praised? Why are they treading on dangerous ground? What caused them to turn out to be a church of bitterness and strife?
2. Jesus is passionately concerned with how and what we do in our churches, and wants to be intimately involved. So, how is He involved in your church? What can be done to invite Him further into your church?
3. How does the fact that Jesus knows your pain and feels your pain help you persevere in times of trials and confusion?
4. How do you demonstrate faithfulness? When we suffer, we may think that Christ is absent, but He is not. He is with us fully. How does this fact strengthen your faithfulness?
5. If this was your church, what could be done to make sure it did not die but be revived to its formerly healthy and vibrant ways?
6. What causes a Christian to become belligerent against Christ and a church to turn on one another, forsaking their call and duty? How does this ruin a church? How can such a church be turned around?
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
© 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org