Man is blessed when he trusts in God, but the nature of man is deceived and ultimately untrustworthy
“To empower men to reach their God-given potential in every realm of life through the power and grace of The Lord Jesus Christ. To help us become the husbands, fathers, leaders, citizens and role models God created us to be. To present to our families, communities, nation and world an image of men as God-fearing, family-oriented, moral, loving, intelligent, responsible and productive. To glorify The Most High God by walking in true Biblical manhood.”
– Chris Broussard
If Christians truly focused on what God has told them to do and obeyed, they would find a deep peace internally and a strong community, but because very few follow what he has called us to, many of us struggle to reconcile our identity in this world, love one another and grow spiritually.
Have you ever been part of a church that refused to practice church correction?
In the passage that we’re going through today, we’re going to hear that which is good about the church in Pergamum…but we’re also going to hear what Christ thought was bad. Primarily, the church refused to practice church correction.
I remember a few years ago hearing from one of our congregants a shameful story. Inside of their church of around 1,500 people, one of the staff at the church began to have an affair on his wife and then even went as far as to kick her out of their home.
This staff member happened to be a very prominent figure inside the church and since he was able to draw a large crowd on Sundays, when the church found out about it, they allowed him to continue leading in this particular organization while the woman he was having an affair with sung praises to God on Sundays and his wife went from house to house sleeping on other people’s couches.
Should the church have done something? According to the world around us, it’s not the church’s job to decide on these matters because we’re not supposed to judge. However even some of the most immoral people would have issues with this circumstance that I just proposed. Shouldn’t the church? Pergamum had allowed false teaching and certain practices which were not meant to be permitted in the church to spring up among them.
We need, as a whole to change our understanding of what love is. If you have children that are allergic to bees, it’s best not to go into bee-keeping as a profession. If you have a canary for a pet then leaving a cat at home all day with the bird cage open is not a good decision. If a shepherd has a flock of sheep, then he needs to be on the lookout for wolves. Common sense says that love protects and that means determining what may be threatening to others.
We’re going to see today in this passage that Christ had some somewhat terrifying things to say to this congregation in Smyrna. Being poor, already persecuted by the “Jews” in Smyrna, and about to be even more heavily persecuted soon, Smyrna was a tough place to be a Christian. There are things we’re called to do as believers, including being part of a congregation of other believers, that are not going to be easy. For me, this was church planting.
It was 2010 and I had just planted a church in my basement. God put us through a lot that first year:
We were very poor
We had to set up and break down every Sunday
I had to work part time to support my family
No one believed we could do it
A lot of people came from churches in an attempt to make their vision, our vision
Being abandoned by those who said they’d stick with you
I want to let you know that I’m not talking about these things in order to move you to feel sorry for me, because I wasn’t planting a church for me…I was doing it for Christ. I would never have thought to plant a church unless Christ had called me to it. I’m certain that the apostle Paul, who probably planted the church in Smyrna, probably felt the same way. Also, Polycarp, who may have been the bishop of Smyrna when this letter was written wouldn’t want you to feel pity for him. We were and are being given an opportunity to obey and serve our master. Click to read the rest of this post >>
We’re going to see in this passage, that Christ has many good things to say about the church in Ephesus, yet one really bad thing; Ephesus has stopped loving like it used to.
When I was young, my parents introduced me to a method called “the sandwich method” which is when you take 2 positive things about a situation and use them as pieces of bread to surround one negative thing. This method helps the person to accept the criticism without feeling like you’re only being negative…Christ is going to do this with Ephesus.
When we look at Ephesus in particular, we are looking at, what most historians consider, to be the most influential church in the world during this period. Ephesus was important to Jesus, just as every church is. But Ephesus was the most important city within what is now modern day Turkey which was then a Roman province. It had a seaport, it was a key city on the trade route, and it was also the central city of worship for the goddess Artemis.
How do we measure if we’re loving people the way we should? Helmut Thielicke who was a prominent German preacher and theologian said once, “Tell me how much you know of the sufferings of your fellow man and I will tell you how much you have loved them.”