Summary: Our church may be in a mess. But in the Lord's eyes it is a beautiful mess. He has promised to gather us back immaterial of the mess that we make of ourselves.
Church Revival Part II – A Beautiful Mess
(I have borrowed the term “Beautiful Mess” from the book “Messy Church” by Ross Parsley)
Main readings Ezekiel 34:11-16 and Rev 2:12-17
We are in the topic of Church Revival and when I preached last time, we saw the message from Jesus Christ to the Church in Smyrna. We looked at the flow of the message (Viz; Commend, Comfort, Point out areas of improvement and then Reward). We also saw the 3R principle of revival (Viz; Repent, Return and Recover).
Today, let us look at the message to the church in Pergamos. We will see the same flow in this message also. Jesus commends them in v13 Revelation 2:13 (NKJV) I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. He comforts them by revealing who he is in v12. Revelation 2:12 (NKJV) "And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, 'These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword: He is the one who has the two edged sword with him. A two edged sword that can protect the believers and slay sin and sinners. It is God’s word. This identity of Christ, the one with the double edged sword, is very relevant to the Church at Pergamos, The church of Pergamos was infested with men of corrupt minds, who did what they could to corrupt both the faith and manners of the church; and Christ, being resolved to fight against them by the sword of his word, takes the title of him that hath the sharp sword with two edges. This is comforting to the believers in the church that they need not fight the corrupt in the church by themselves, but Christ, the one with the double edged sword, will fight for them. Jesus then proceeds to pointing out what is the problem with the church at Pergamos, and lastly explains the reward that is awaiting them if they revive. So the flow of commend, comfort, point out areas of improvement and reward is applicable in this message also. Since we have already dwelt on it last time I preached I would like to look at another aspect of revival this time.
Let us look at the condition of the Church at Pergamos for a moment. In v14-15 He tells the church what he knows about their sins and shortcomings. The congregation has, among them , those who teach corrupt doctrines, that it is ok to have small incursions, it is ok to have impure worship. That is what Balaam did to the Israelites. So what was happening in this church was that corrupt practices and corrupt worship was leading to corrupt conversations. In addition, there are those who follow the teachings of the Nicolations. There are different interpretations of this phrase. One of them is that teachings of the Nicolations means dominating over people, as against the teachings of Balaam which is seducing the people. In short in the church of Pergamos, there were people who were dominating over the believers or seducing the believers to wrong worship practices. In short, using a modern terminology, the church at Pergamos was a mess.
What about our church? Don’t you get the feeling that sometimes we are in a mess? It might not be as big as wrong worship practices or seduction or domination, but yet there are times when we are entitled to think that we are in a mess. There are times when we do not have enough people in the pews to deliver a sermon to, there are times when we do not have enough children to run a Sunday School class, there are times when we do not have any youth members to lead the singing, there are times when we do not have any one to play a musical instrument, there are times when we scramble to get enough participation in events like special meetings or cottage prayer meetings, there are times when we see people leave our church and can’t do anything about it, there are times when one member criticizes another member for an act. There are times when some sermons do not measure up to someone’s standards. There are times when someone believes that their spiritual needs are not getting met through this congregation. There are times when someone gets offended by a particular point in a sermon. There are times when someone believes that our worship is not lively enough. There are times when someone feels that we spend too much time and money in eating rather than listening to the word. There are times when we do not have enough money in the bank; there are times when we delay the payments due to that. I can go on and on, but I think I have made my point. We as a church have got problems, or in other words, it would not be an entirely wrong if I say that we are in a mess!!