40 blogs of Lent – Day 9
The persecuted church
Messages to the churches – Day 7
Smyrna – Day 2
‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Such a bad church from one standpoint.
They are in external trouble, cannot balance the budget, and there is internal strife. This church would make headlines in the press for all the wrong reasons. If there was a tabloid press back then, this church would have been used as evidence that the Christianity was on the way out. As far as everyone is concerned, the Smyrna church is finished.
If you think this you are looking from the wrong point of view. God sees it differently, he says they are rich. Smyrna is one of only two of the seven churches in Asia to which there is no fault found.
But this is a persecuted church, with persecution coming not only from outside, but also from inside. (Those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan, stands here for those who are claiming to be Christians.) They are facing real hardship, and the prophesy from God is not some sort of positive things can only get better, but rather that for this church where God finds no fault that they are about to get worse, a lot worse.
There is a gospel that is preached that God blesses those who follow him with good things in this life, if God approves of you he will make you rich. This is not only untrue, it is an insult to those Christians in the world who are suffering persecution, it is an insult to the majority of Christians. Prosperity is not the message of the Gospel, if you hear it preached go elsewhere.
I am writing this on 15th February. These reports are from the previous week from the opendoorsuk.org website.
12 February 2018
9 churches burnt in Nigeria as attacks on Christian communities continue…
13 February 2018
Pastor, church members and police officer injured in church attack in Indonesia…
13 February 2018
Church demolished in Sudan despite pending appeal.
Any week you will find the same sort of thing. No matter how easy it is to be a Christian in the Western world, not all are as comfortable as us. More than 200 million believers in the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian experience high levels of persecution because of their faith.
Persecution of Christians is not just something from the past. There is more persecution going on now than there ever has been in history, the promised tribulation is here.
How can this be good news? The Gospel is supposed to be good news. It is because Jesus has gone through it himself. He presents himself to the persecuted church as the one who died and is alive, and even if they die they will be given a crown of life. A Christian never suffers alone, Christ is always there in their suffering.
If you want to help the suffering church please go to the opendoorsuk.org website.
“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.
“‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.