In the latest series, "Acts," we will look at the Church as it is defined in the Book of Acts of the Apostles. While we allow for the cultural and technological differences between our times and theirs, we will nevertheless strive to understand the kind of people of God we are called to be and what we can do to establish Christ’s Kingdom in our midst.
On Sunday we enjoyed our first onsite visit to the Lord’s Table since last winter. Even as we do so, there will be fewer of us present and we will be observing safe distancing. Holy communion is indented to be a very intimate expression of faith and unity so the Eucharistic liturgy may seem strange. The message from Hebrews 12:1-3 reminds us that we are among a great throng of Christ-followers, even when we can't see them.
Read Revelation 3:14-22 - See that there is nothing particularly outstanding about Laodicea. The Church there, like the city’s water supply, was compromised. They adjusted their temperament according to the perceived climate; Laodicean Christians did not passionately stand for anything. They attended worship services and other functions out of habit and expected nothing out of the ordinary of their Church or themselves. Is this your church's story too?
The people of God often gave up their faith in God as they wandered in the wilderness. Sadly, the unfaithful pressured others to adopt their faithless self-determination. Sometimes, they even pressured their leaders to conform. The most glaring example of this situation is the familiar story of the Israelites who melted their jewelry and formed a golden calf while Moses met with God on the mountain. Do Christians make false gods that satisfy the flesh? Do they ever call these idols the God who saved them?
Sardis was built on a mountain and had a citadel (fortification) that was considered unconquerable. Nevertheless, it was conquered at least five times, twice due to carelessness. The Christians in Sardis seem to have been as apathetic as the city’s defenders. When Jesus said, “I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead” it is like the impressive citadel atop the mountain in which the guards are sleeping. Do you know Christians who are apathetic about their devotion to the Lord?
Thyatira’s Christians were threatened by a silver-tongued devil whom our Lord likened to Jezebel. The unnamed prophetess and Jezebel were gifted with persuasiveness and fond of attention. Yet, their message was not from God, and their subtle efforts to undermine the body and its leaders were diabolical. How do Christians avoid Satan's traps and fortify themselves against his undermining?
Every time the Israelites in the wilderness were punished by God it was because they tried to fit God into the humanist/pagan worldview of their oppressors. It was true in for Pergamum Christians before and it is still true today. Have you witnessed the blending of humanist culture with Christ’s intended culture in a local church? How were the outcomes similar to those experienced by the Israelites and the Pergamum Christians?
What's the biggest difference between the way servants of Christ endure suffering and the way others endure it? Jesus has the answer to that question in his letter to the Church at Smyrna. Join us for worship on Sunday as we learn from our Lord.
Have you ever had your firmly held beliefs challenge by someone's rational arguments against them? What was it like to feel so unsettled? How did you recover? Or, did you change your stance? This Sunday we will talk about the need for retaining our "first love" for Christ and to defend our faith against false teaching, even while we find grace for those who are babes in the Faith.