Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Church report card - 2

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Revelation 2:18-3:6

TO CHEW ON: “‘He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life but I will confess his name before my Father and His angels.’” Revelation 2:5

Continuing on with these church report cards, today’s reading contains two more with poor grades. The Thyratira church was given an A for its works, love, service, faith, and patience. But they tolerated a Jezebel figure who “led people into literal and spiritual fornication” (endnotes – New Spirit Filled Life Bible, p. 1820). Jesus warned them that their tolerance and unwillingness to rid themselves of this influence would lead to deadly consequences.

The church at Sardis had a reputation of being alive, but it was actually dead (D-?). Jesus only commends the faithful few “who have not defiled their garments.”

What can we learn about the church and God’s standards for her in the areas in which the churches at Thyratira and Sardis fell short?

1. The church has enemies.  Possibly some of the worst are those who infiltrate its membership, causing dissension and disunity (as in Thyratira’s case).

2. Jesus prayed for the unity of His followers (present and future). Unity in the church was one of the Apostle Paul’s great aspirations for it.

3. God sometimes uses harsh and unpleasant circumstances to discipline us (individual members and congregations) toward maturity and repentance. This discipline sometimes comes as punishment for a refusal to repent.

4. Christ’s ideal for the church is purity. Again and again this purity is pictured as special clothes. Often these are clothes or robes of white.

As individual members of the body of Christ – the church – the things in the above list apply to and impact not only congregations but us – individuals out of which those congregations are built. Are we experiencing opposition? It shouldn’t surprise us. Are we working for unity. We should be. Are we learning from God’s discipline? Are we doing life in our rich, pure robes of salvation?

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, what a privilege it is to be part of Your church. Help me to be a healthy member in this, Your body on earth. Amen.

MORE: "The Church's One Foundation" and two more hymns, sung against a visual background of details from Hubert and Jan Van Eyck's painting "The Lamb of God." 

Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.

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