- Do the churches mentioned in Revelation 2 and 3 also represent the different stages of a single persons faith journey? Bear with me.
- In the message to the first church, Ephesus, the messenger instructs the church to not “abandon the love you had at first”. Anyone who has been a Christian for a good amount of time understands that recapturing the initial awe and overwhelming amazed love for God as when you are new to the faith can be a challenge.
- The second letter tells the church in Smyrna that they will suffer, with poverty and being jailed. Sounds accurate, right? After the honeymoon stage is over, now we know the suffering that being a Christian is really all about.
- The third letter tells the church in Pergamum to stop their worship of other God’s an idols. As God takes up more room in our lives, we naturally forsake destructive influences’ false claims. This is to tell them to allow grace to be working.
- The fourth letter to Thyratira convicts the audience to cast out sexual immorality and the woman of Jezebel (aka an Enemy of God). As human beings, our relationships and sexual acts are also meant to reflect God, and there is a crapton already written about why those connections exist. Four being the number of the earth and things that are passing away, it makes sense that God would tell people to purify their hearts and interests and to flee from sexual immorality.
- The fifth letter to Sardis convicts the church on hypocrisy, and reassures the audience that they will be judged. This part seems especially timely as people continue to walk in the faith, so that they aren’t distracted, get too high on themselves, and take their eyes off God.
- The sixth letter to Philadelphia exhorts the listener to hold on for the promises of God, and that Christ is coming. As the sixth and thus, penultimate to the seventh (God’s number) letter, telling people to wait on a quickly coming God makes sense, and it makes sense to the waiting believer. In this life and for the sake of Jesus, we learn what it means to wait.
- Finally, the seventh letter to Laodicea abhors the lukewarm. Having no concern for God and remaining indifferent seems like an even worse than hating God, because as in James 2:9, “even the demons believe”. They hate Christ, but they are still convicted and scared of his presence. For those of us who remain rebellious and don’t give glory and authority to God even going into final judgment, you can see this parallel to the life of the believer in that many who we love will never come to the faith. Even so, the last judgment is God’s.
Isaiah 52 and 53
- How can people think that God has no desire for the lives of women or cares about them any less when Christ is coming back “for Zion’s sake (Isaiah 62:1). How can we not see how fiercely God loves women when he defends and redeems his church, as in Isaiah 52? Having been “sold for nothing…and redeemed without money” (52:3), you have this God who loves her beyond price against the world who despises her and intends her to sell herself for nothing. How can his message of protection and physical/sexual vindication from abuse and not specifically apply to women, given the world we’re in? If God is willing to make such awesome promises to women, why do we create places of worship that by exclusion, despise them?
- It fills me with a lot of strength to know that great women like Mary Magdalene, Timothy’s mom Eunice, and Mary the mother of Christ were all given the same promise of restoration and belovedness so long ago that I have also inherited. The amount of sheer hope and peacekeeping this message has generated throughout time is absolutely amazing to think about. By design, women have this intense desire for connection and spiritual/emotional intimacy that can only fully be met by Christ. I love knowing that the things that make so much to me were at one point discovered by my foremothers, and that the promises made to them were just as sound.
- Christ must have really cared about healing. As one who cast out sickness and demons, raised people from the dead, and came not to condemn but to save (John 3:17), Christ was “acquainted with sickness” (53:3). You can tell, because he drew people like Luke (who was a physician) to his message because they desire to be like him. As a man who understood sickness, he sets the stage to encourage faith based on the Holy Spirit and his own power to save the sick person through his prayer of faith (James 5:15), giving people the strength to believe he can do it (Mark 9:24).
- As the children of a father become more like their dad, so are we meant to resemble God more. How perfect is it that he made such diversity of interests among human beings, and yet he is the author of all of it. I know that God can meet any of us where we are at because he is the best equipped to know the desires of our hearts, having put them there. Who else could contain such versatility, and bring teaching to people with a plethora of different sorts of gifts? I like how Christ’s message speaks loudest to those who want to be most like him and who are aware of their own brokenness (as poor men and women). To me, that is God’s act of making level the high and low places (Isaiah 40:4), and providing good examples of stewardship for his other children.