We know that churches are made up of a community of believers. Let’s take a look at seven different communities that have existed. Which can you identify?
1. The Proud Church. When this church first formed, it was one of the earliest churches in the area. They loved Jesus and loved each other. Over the years, the church grew and grew until it was the largest church around. The community became diluted and they lost their fire for Jesus. They were more proud of their importance instead of glorifying Christ. Their belief became half-hearted and indifferent.
2. The Suffering Church. This church was composed of poor people but their faith made them rich in Christ. In size, they were the opposite of the church above. Over time, they were subjected to persecution and many were martyred in Christ’s name. Through this, their faith became stronger.
3. The Tolerant Church. Even though this church faced persecution and martyrdom, they tolerated false teachings. The false teachings were the right of Christians to indulge in heathen immoralities. Although the leadership of the church wasn’t propagating these false teachings, they tolerated them in the congregation. They were in a difficult spot as their location was in the center of an area that was referred to as Satan’s Throne. Even though faithful, their tolerance of false teaching was dangerous to their faith.
4. The Church of Compromise. This church grew and grew and was faithful to a point. They had a false teacher as one of their pastors and tolerated both true teachings and also false teachings. Not everyone tolerated the false teaching but they also thought that this pastor could help win over the whole city so they accepted the pastor into the church as an equal.
5. The Dead Church. This church was a church in name only. This church consisted of mostly wealthy believers. After a while, it became more of a social club. They gathered to be seen and not to glorify Christ.
6. The Humble Church. This church was always content to exemplify the Life of Jesus in the midst of a corrupt society. These believers were lovers of God’s Word and intent on keeping it. With any blessing that came their way, they gave Christ the glory.
7. The Lukewarm Church. This church built a beautiful temple with riches. They dressed to impress. They were a church operating in the Name of Christ but all too evidently for the benefit and glorification of the people in control, with Christ Himself little in evidence.
I am sure that you may have recognized one or more of these churches. You may even have recognized yourself in one of these. Do you want me to tell you where these churches are?
John, in the book of Revelations wrote letters to seven churches. It is believed that he sent the whole book of Revelations to each of these churches. He chose these churches as a representation of a fair cross section of the churches of that generation. In fact, in some degree, they represent churches in all generations. Churches existing in varying degrees of Truth and falseness. Churches humanized with worldly traditions. Churches largely the product of its leadership, with varying proportions of faithful leaders and faithful members. Indeed, many congregations today are a pitiful mixture of church and world, True and False.
If you read Revelations 2, you notice that of the seven churches, two were good: Smyrna and Philadelphia, two were very bad: Sardis and Laodicea, and three were part good and part bad: Ephesus, Pergamum, and Thyatira.
Our examples should be the churches of Smyrna and Philadelphia. Smyrna, the suffering church, was promised the “Crown of Life”. Where is it today? It has survived through all the centuries, it houses the second largest population of Turkey. It’s modern name is Iz-mir (1). Philadelphia became Amman and served as the ancient and modern capital of Jordan.(2)