Our ideas for what church should be like should not be trusted. At least not totally. We can dream up all kinds of helpful strategies, plans, and programs, but we cannot overlook the all-important question: What does Jesus want for His Church? Today’s reading points us in the right direction.
Jesus dictated these letters to John and wanted them sent to the actual churches in these actual places in Asia Minor. And they stand today as ever-relevant words from Jesus about what He wants in all of His churches—in every place, every time, every nation.
When we think about the kind of church we want to be a part of, what Jesus says in these seven letters should inform our search criteria. As we serve in our local churches, these letters offer the vision we should have for our churches. Jesus’s plan for His Church is far more significant than any conference, book, or pastor’s five-year goals. Jesus bought the Church with His own blood. Your church is His Church.
So what does Jesus want us to be?
Christ wants Christ-centered churches (Letter to Ephesus). He wants churches that will endure the pressure and persecution from the surrounding culture (Letter to Smyrna). He wants churches committed to sound, healthy, biblical doctrine (Letter to Pergamum). The Lord wants churches that don’t minimize sin and worldliness (Letter to Thyatira). The risen Christ wants churches that avoid hypocrisy like we avoid the slow lane on the highway (Letter to Sardis). Jesus wants His churches to hold fast in ministry and endure till the end (Letter to Philadelphia). And finally, Jesus wants His Church to be a repenting Church, one that constantly returns to Him (Letter to Laodicea).
These letters are given to specific churches, but they are also for all churches, for all time. That’s why Jesus said, “Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:29). He wants us to listen, to learn, to repent and turn back to Him, our first love (v.4).
Written by J.A. Medders