Summary: Letter to the Church at Pergamum
Jeremiah 2:1-5 Rev.2:12-17
We are in week three of our series on the book of Revelation and more specifically, Jesus’ letters to His Bride, the church. And each of the seven letters is different because each of the churches’ circumstances and standing are different. But one thing is consistent in all of these letters and that is Jesus’ promise to return. He’s made it unmistakably clear that He is coming back for His Bride, to join Him in a heavenly banquet or wedding feast and then to reign with Him over all creation for all time. And in each one of these letters, Jesus is pleading for His Bride to be ready or to get ready for His return.
In His first letter to the churches, He writes to the church at Ephesus, and accuses them of forgetting their first love; they have chased after all sorts of other things in the world, other loves, and they have forgotten about the One who loves them more than anyone else, the One who gave His life for them. They have essentially forgotten that Jesus is their First Love; their Savior…. and He warns them that the consequence of trading Him for anything else is quite serious.
In the second letter, Jesus writes to the church at Smyrna commending them on their faithfulness in the midst of persecution. He says, I know that you have more than your share of trouble, but, He says, those troubles are just for a season, that pain and suffering are not permanent and He promises them that if they can remain true to Him, that He will give them the crown of life. So, hang in there.
This morning’s letter is to the church at Pergamum where Jesus says, that on the one hand, they have not publicly denied him name, even in the face of persecution. In other words, they still claim to be Christians BUT, He says, many of them embrace UN-Christ-like teachings and because of that, many are living in such a way that it would be impossible for anyone to know they are Christians or have anything to do with Jesus. And as I read this letter to the church at Pergamum, I see an underlying question that the Christians in Pergamum needed to ask, and it’s a question for the church today: “Will Jesus recognize His bride when He does return?”
Of course, that’s an important consideration. When someone is picking you up at the airport, it’s important for them to recognize you. How else will they know you from the other 10,000 people in the baggage claim? And if you’re going in for surgery on your toe, you certainly don’t want the orderly to confuse you with the person having a heart transplant. It can be pretty important that we know who we are and that others recognize us.
A middle aged woman had a heart attack and was taken to the hospital. While on the operating table she has a near-death experience. During that experience she saw God and asked if this is it. God says no and explains that she has another 30-40 years to live.
Upon her recovery she decides to just stay in the hospital and have a little cosmetic work done. After all, she figures that if she has another 30-4- years, she might as well make the most of it. So, she has a face lift, and a nose job, she has liposuction and breast augmentation, and a tummy tuck. And before she is discharged, she even has someone come in and change her hair color and do a make-over.
Feeling like a brand new woman, she walks out the hospital and is killed by an ambulance speeding up to the hospital.
She arrives in front of God again, quite puzzled and asks, "I thought you said I had another 30-40 years?"
God replies, "Oh Sorry, I didn't recognize you." When Jesus returns for His bride, will He recognize her? Will He recognize us?
No question, life was difficult for the Christians in Pergamum. In fact, in this letter, Jesus says “I understand your situation. You live in a culture and in a world where Satan himself is on the throne.” Does it ever feel that way to you; Like Satan is in control? There is so much hatred in the world, so much prejudice, so much violence and anger and evil that affects our lives every day. Drug deals go down in the local parks, terrorism is a daily event somewhere in the world, child abuse and spouse abuse is rampant and in the wealthiest country in the world, far too many children go to bed hungry each night. Wars never seem to give way to peace. Sexual boundaries have been blurred or completely obliterated, financial and political corruption is everywhere in both government and business, and nearly everything that was once black or white in life has faded to gray. Under the banner of political correctness, the world has become the sole arbiter of what is good and what is right and what is acceptable. We have become our own standard by which to measure all things in life.