Revelation Day 7 - PRESS ON

Revelation 2:1-11 

Everyone loves to be praised. Don’t you love the feeling when someone notices you or your work and says, “Good job!”

Today we’re looking at what Jesus praises in the seven churches of Revelation. Each mini-letter repeats a pattern: picture, praise, problem, prescription, promise. We get a picture of Christ, he praises what’s good in the church, critiques their problems, gives them a prescription to improve, and signs off with a promise.

What does Jesus praise in the first two churches, Ephesus and Smyrna?

Jesus celebrates Ephesus’s hard work and perseverance in service to God. They’ve got no patience for false teachers, the so-called “wicked people” and fake apostles. Ephesus holds tight to Jesus despite resistance. Smyrna gets an A+. They, too, persevere against persecution, not only from Gentile (non-Jewish) neighbors but from Jewish neighbors, too. “Synagogue of Satan” is hard to hear after centuries of Christians mistreating Jews but this should be heard as closer to sibling rivalry than justification for mistreatment.

Perseverance through persecution is a common theme in Revelation 2 and 3. The seven churches are swimming upstream against a culture at odds with the Way of Jesus. There were not many Christians at this time, certainly none with power. They’ve got no dreams of a Christian nation. They’re just trying to survive. Revelation is cynical about government power because it’s been so often misused with Christians as the target.

It's interesting to think about what's not mentioned. Jesus doesn't celebrate the size of their churches. There's no superstar or celebrity Christians named. He celebrates love, faith, hard-working service, and staying true to the way of Jesus when the easiest thing to do would be to quit. Every Christian feels like quitting at some point, doing what’s easy instead of what’s right. Jesus is in your corner, cheering you on, whispering, “Press on!”

When have you been tempted to give up and do what is easy instead of what’s right? What happened?

Lord Jesus, you walk among your churches, praising what’s good and urging us to press on. Help me - help all your people - to persevere when following you feels too hard. Amen.
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