“To the church in Philadelphia…To the church in Laodicea…”
(Revelation 3:7 & 14)
Thoughts… To paraphrase the unforgettable opening line of Dickens’ classic, A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of churches, it was the worst of churches.”
Throughout the centuries, Biblical scholars have interpreted the letters to the seven churches in Revelation in a variety of ways. Some have suggested that these letters are written literally to seven contemporary churches throughout Asia Minor during the time of John’s imprisonment, describing real conditions that existed in those churches. Others suggest that these seven churches represent eras of church history, with the last two, Philadelphia and Laodicea, concurrently representing the condition of the church at the end of time.
I lean heavily toward the latter, but however you wish to interpret, the message to these last two churches is clear, and quite applicable to the church in our day:
One, God assesses the condition of his church far differently than we do. What we consider weak, ineffective and unattractive in a church, God treasures because of that church’s fidelity to his Word. Size, slickness and sizzle do not impress God if his Word is not being honored above all else.
On the other hand, what we might consider attractive, powerful, and impacting in a church because of its bigness, buildings and budget, God may assess as way off the mark because Biblical truth has been neglected or compromised, all in the name of cultural relevance and church growth.
That leads to the second thought: Beware of all the bells and whistles when evaluating the church. If these last two churches do represent the condition of the church in the last days, it is rather obvious that many of today’s churches are indeed the church at Laodicea. Don’t get caught up in the personality cult and celebrity worship of TV preachers or the hype of the mega-church.
Ask yourself: Does my church honor God’s Word above all else? Is my pastor and are my spiritual leaders truly people of God—full of the Holy Spirit, evidenced by the fruit of the Spirit in their lives and passionate about fulfilling the purposes of God for the church without compromise? Is this a church with whom God is well pleased?
If so, then you’ve got a great church. If not, start praying!
Prayer… Father, purify your church, that we might be the Bride of Christ, pure, spotless, and ready for the return of the Bridegroom.
One More Thing… “God evaluates by character not charisma.”