by Philip Layton
John is told to write specific messages to three more churches
Some scholars think these seven messages were written for the geographical churches at the time; others believe the messages are to the varied forms which the Church has taken over the past 2,000 years; others consider them to be words of challenge or comfort to churches today. What do you think?
Why does Jesus ‘stand at the door and knock’ (v 20)?
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Going Deeper From 'Words of Life'
The Church in Sardis was being condemned because it had become ineffective. The people thought they were terrific – but it was false thinking. The city of Sardis had once been great. It stood high on a plateau – a chief citadel of the kingdom of Lydia. But under Roman rule, the city became unimportant. A city of the past and, just like the city, the church had become dead. Have we ever been part of a church that seemed dead? Perhaps no emphasis on evangelism. No emphasis on worship or prayer. Nothing, really, of eternal value. How tragic! But it can happen. The message given to us is to ‘wake up’ – before it’s too late.
The Church in Philadelphia was weak because there had been adversity. Yet God was placing before the people an ‘open door’ of opportunity. Philadelphia had been founded in 189 BC by a king who gave the city its name, meaning ‘the city of brotherly love’. People were to love one another. The church was given another chance, a fresh opportunity, to reach out in love. For then they would be strengthened by God’s love. God opens doors for us. Let us make sure we walk through them – as we reach out to others daily.
The Church in Laodicea no doubt had leading financiers in its congregation – for Laodicea was a bankers’ city. But sometimes when people have money, are rich, they become self-sufficient. The church was chastised because of the people’s complacency:
‘So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth’ (v 16).
Lukewarm! May this never happen to us. Nothing could be worse than to be accused of not caring – for God or for others.
Yes, all of these seven churches in the Asia province had needs. Needs that only Christ could meet. Nothing has changed. And so we pray: ‘Lord, we want to be spiritually alive, full of love, and on fire for you. Keep us faithful!’
Arch of Titus photo: Steerpike (Creative Commons)