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  • Renée Coventry

He Who Has Ears to Hear! Pt. 5

Sardis:


When people heard this church's name, they thought of everything right and good in the world. This was a church of influence, yet Christ points out that they are dead despite their reputation of life. That word dead means destitute of power, inoperative regarding doing what is right, and spiritually dead because of sin and trespasses. WOW! If I were to characterize this church based on those definitions, I would say that it didn't operate in the power of the Holy Spirit, avoided what Scripture teaches if it rocked the boat, always politically correct, and, while active in its community, it remained focused on its own identity rather than Christ's.


What an indictment! Jesus states that their works are not perfect or complete. In everything this church is known for, something is lacking and incomplete before God. This is serious because Jesus tells them that they need to remember the things they’ve heard and received, keep them, and repent. It sounds as though they are great at filling needs but not so good at acting on all that God has taught them. They are oblivious to the times and seasons because Christ tells them to remain alert; His return is at hand. However, their social agenda is more important than their spiritual agenda. Imagine! Jesus is telling a congregation that even though they’re known for their works, they’re defiled.


The good news is that some haven’t defiled their spiritual robes. The point is that with almost every church, Christ references their works, and while He does desire works, He is more concerned that we are walking in robes of righteousness and holiness. For it is these whose names He will never strike from the Book of Life, the implication being that there are some whose names He will remove. We must live in such a manner that we walk worthy of His call on our lives.


Philadelphia:


Here is a church to which we should pay the utmost attention. Why? Jesus doesn’t have to reprove them. He mentions that He knows their works, but also their commitment to His Word and Name, despite having "little strength." Interestingly, in Greek, it means having little power or resources that comes from numbers. This is the unknown and hidden church without much in terms of people or money. Their steadfastness to the Lord, however, compensated for their lack of numbers and resources. And when there was no one to applaud their efforts, and their works went unnoticed by the community, Jesus was watching.


It is for this church that Jesus opens up doors that no one will be able to shut. This is a church clothed in humility, and it is this church to which Jesus declares He will have the entire synagogue of Satan bow. When this church intercedes and wars in the spiritual, things happen because they are in right relationship with God, walking in holiness and purity before Him. Jesus further states that they will be known as the church that Jesus loves, and because of this great love, Christ assures them that He will save them out of the tribulation. How beautiful and awesome! He further promises that if they hold on to what they have already, Christ will make this church a pillar in the house of God, never to be removed.


Sometimes we become so obsessed with bigger and better, particularly in the western church. A larger egg hunt with the best prizes or the greater number of attendees (notice, I didn’t say disciples). We can learn from this that God doesn’t look for the grandiose, but rather the pure-hearted and humble. Personally, when I die, I don't want to be lauded for my reputation and works. No, I want to be remembered as the woman Jesus loved and belong to a fellowship of believers upon whom the Lord has set His love. To never leave God's house – I can’t imagine anything better.


Laodicea:

This church lacks nothing financially, and it is a source of pride for this congregation. In their minds and probably to the outside world, they are as far removed from being destitute as possible. Every program is financed with room for expansion, and many flock to their doors. Unfortunately, according to Christ, they are blind to their actual spiritual condition. They wear no robes of righteousness; they are pitiful and poor, having nothing to offer spiritually. Christ has absolutely nothing good to say about this congregation. He doesn't even mention their works, so it was not worth His mentioning if they were doing anything.


Yet, in all of this, Christ's love is apparent. He wouldn’t bother correcting them if He didn't love them, and so He encourages them to buy refined gold from Him – seeking His treasure, not their own. He wants them to purchase robes of righteousness to prevent their exposure and eye salve so that their eyes will be open. This is the only church that Jesus tells to buy something. The implication is that He wants them to direct their vast resources to their relationship with Him and what He values over their desires, and it is to this church that He speaks:


“Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with Me."


While many reference this verse to convert the unbelieving, Jesus addresses this promise to a church drowning in their riches. Then again, perhaps this church is unconverted. Regardless, Jesus invites intimacy. Will this church enter the kingdom of heaven? It reminds me of the rich young ruler who left Jesus when told to sell all he had and follow Christ. He went away sad because he was very wealthy (Mark 10:17-27). But Jesus offers hope.


And that’s the point. That despite the sin and degradation found within His bride, Jesus offers the way of redemption. And that is the most crucial thing the Spirit is addressing to all of these churches. There is nothing Christ can’t redeem!


So what is it that you're facing today? Do you find yourself in any of these churches? Not to undermine the importance of what is happening in our nation and the world, but I believe the Lord is concerned with His church and would have us take a closer look and identify those places where we are lacking so that we will stand complete, a bride holy and without blemish for Him, shining like stars in a perverse generation (Phil. 2:15). A bride upon which He can lavish His most precious of gifts, whose works reflect Christ’s heart and whose message is His gospel of redemption to a fallen world.



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