In Revelation chapter two, Jesus addresses the church in Ephesus. He now turns his attention to the church in Smyrna, the city of myrrh, the incense used for burial.
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Revelation 2:9 ‘I know your afflictions and your poverty – yet you are rich!
Many Western Christians, bunkering down in the ivory towers of their opulence, are filled with a blend of guilt and compassion, knowing their brothers and sisters in the faith, in other parts of the world, endure the horrors of persecution.
But yet the beautiful irony is that Christianity often finds its perfect expression when being pummeled from every side. The storm of persecution brings purification so that the Lord may radiate from within ever more brightly.
Not wanting to sound too gloomy but it is possible that persecution may turn up at our door in the West one day.
Revelation 2:10 ‘Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer.’
Persecution brings coils of fear that seek to entangle us, smothering the very life out of our faith, reducing us to apostate fools. This is where close communion with Jesus rescues us, as we feed upon his wisdom and reassuring confidence.
John 16:33 “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
The Christian message may be judged as a message of hate to a sinful world. Then the enemy will seek to imprison some of us, no doubt taking our leather-bound bibles and multi-translation bible phone apps from us as we pass through the detention gates.
Revelation 2:10a “I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you”
Our real enemy will not be the guards though, no matter how rough or cruel they may appear but rather the dark hand that controls their fallen minds.
If we do pass through these detention gates, we will enter the crucible of testing, the furnace of tribulation, that will test our faith to its very limits.
1 Peter 1:7 ‘These (trials) have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.’
The Lord has promised to be with us every step of the way. We may be terrified but we will have nothing to fear. In the presence of the Lord we will find the greatest of joy despite our circumstances.
Romans 8:37 ‘No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.’
There is hope in the darkness!
This is the second in a short series. To go back to the first post on Ephesus please click HERE
Tomorrow we explore Smyrna part b and the cheerful subject of martyrdom. To get there now please click HERE
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