Jump Start # 3143
Revelation 2:7 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.”
As one studies the churches we read about in the N.T., it is easy to see that so many of them struggled. They had problems. Division, false doctrine, and trouble were common and ran through so many of the churches in the N.T. But, through it all, God was eternally optimistic. Follow the word and things will get better. Our verse today, written about the Loveless Ephesus, rings true to that optimistic spirit. “To him who overcomes,” speaks of hope, a brighter future and a change in the way things were.
Some lessons for us:
First, the presence of trouble, corruption, abuse and wrong is not an indication that all are that way nor that God’s system doesn’t work. The trouble is caused by those who are not walking faithfully with the Lord. They may have started, but they haven’t stayed with it. The presence of spiritual bullies does not come from following the word of God. It comes when some have left God’s word.
Even today, it is easy to write off a church because of a few who are not right with the Lord. The lifeless Sardis church had some who were still walking with the Lord. Those that cause trouble make worship and fellowship difficult for all, but they do not represent all.
Second, God always believes that there remains hope as long as we are alive. People can change. God believes in that. It would be good if we believed the same. Those that cause trouble need not continue to have their way, nor, the final say in all things. People can change when given a chance. People can change when shown what is the right path that they ought to be following. This comes about through discussions, Bible studies and a whole lot of one on one.
Third, if trouble doesn’t stop and turn, God has a mechanism for dealing with that. We call that discipline. Even within the context of our passage today, God tells the Ephesians that if they do not change, He would remove the lampstand. “Do the deeds you did at first; or else…” is what the Lord says. It’s that “or else” that means business. For a student you must go to classes, or else. The or else, is that you will flunk out. For the employee, you must show up at work, or else. The or else, is that you will get fired. For the child of God, you must walk with the Lord, or else. The or else there means you will no longer be in fellowship with God or His people and your soul will be in grave danger.
Discipline, whether in the home, the work place or the church is never easy or pleasant. But to do nothing, is to allow wrong behavior to continue. It kills the momentum at work. It encourages more wrong behavior in the home. It introduces the idea that one can get away with murder in the church. Nothing is ever said. Nothing is ever done. The Lord said, “or else.”
Fourth, there needs to be some recovery, help and comfort to those who have been hurt by others. This is true in the home as well as in the church. Some real TLC needs to be extended. Broken hearts take a while to heal. When someone has been hurt by a fellow Christian it just gets the balance of things out of order. We expect trouble from the world. We know there are toxic people at work. Our neighbors do not follow Christ. But when one of us is the cause of trouble, that just doesn’t set well, and it never will. It should not be that way. And, because of that, some may walk away and never come back. This is why comforting shepherds need to take quick action. They must not defend what is wrong. They need to help those hurting. The lack of support and comfort and the failure to do anything to those who cause trouble makes one conclude that the leadership supports what is wrong. It sends a terrible message.
Why is it that some are bent on being problems? There are layers of answers for that and none of them are simple and easy. One reason is that some may never have fully left the world. Still others have never fully understood the way God expects things to operate. They seek attention, power and position, none of which are of God. To achieve that, some step on others. Some use dishonest means to accomplish that.
All of us are on a journey. As we grow and labor together, we can bump, crash and hurt each other. The good will apologize and learn. The wicked will not care. But we must remember through all of this, that our Lord never treated us this way.
Multiple times the disciples wanted to send people away. Jesus didn’t. There was an occasion when the disciples wanted to call down fire from Heaven and consume some. Jesus didn’t. Some of us get what Jesus is all about. Some of us get that quickly. For others, it takes a long time before they get it. Some never seem to get it.
One day our troubles will be over. One day these things that bother us will bother us no more. One day Heaven will be so sweet.