Summary: The last in a four part series on the churches in Revelation 2 and 3. (Yes I skipped two of them, if you want to know why, just email me). This message looks at how we can all let our lives speak the gospel message into the world.
Letting our lives speak the message
By James Galbraith
First Baptist Church, Port Alberni
October 4, 2009
Our lives should speak the message for us.
Saint Francis ofAssisi once invited a young monk to join him on a trip to town to preach. Honored to have received the invitation, the young monk readily accepted.
All day long he and Francis walked through the streets, byways, alleys, and even the suburbs. They rubbed shoulders with hundreds of people. At the day’s end, the two headed back home. Not even once had Francis addressed a crowd, nor had he talked to anyone about the gospel.
Greatly disappointed, his young companion said, "I thought we were going to town to preach."
Francis responded, "My son, we have preached. We were preaching while we were walking. We were seen by many and our behavior was closely watched. It is of no use to walk anywhere to preach unless we preach everywhere as we walk!"
We preach the message through our lives every day.
This passage is about a church that had very little,
but made what it did have count,
and in doing so lived a life that showed the love of Jesus to it’s community.
You can probably see where I’m going to go with this, so let’s dig in.
- names means "brotherly love",
- city founded by a king in 2nd century BC to honour his brother,
who had proved to be loyal
- at the end of a very fertile valley, industry revolved around agriculture
- many temples and festivals
- lived with frequent earthquakes,
including a severe earthquake in 17 AD which destroyed city,
and as it was rebuilt people spread out away from it’s centre
Bottom line -
- nice place, but not stand out,
- not a military or cosmopolitan centre,
- developed a reputation for brotherly love as well
- Not a big, flashy church
- "I know you have little strength", "hold on to what you have"
- a church under threat from a powerful, local, hostile Jewish community
- "synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews...but are liars"
BUT, a solid, steady, serving church
- "I know your deeds"
- not always a compliment in this series
- Jesus also said this to churches whose deeds were foul
but in this case, a sign of good things to come
- "you have kept my word and have not denied my name"
- equal weight on both, two separate but equally important things
- "you have kept my command to endure patiently"
They are the only church of the seven that does NOT get a warning for bad behavior and because of this faithfulness, there are at least two rewards that await them
- one current and one future
1. Current - "I have placed an open door before you..."
opportunity to continue in service, regardless of local opposition
When Jesus says - "I will make them come and fall at your feet"
- enemies will eventually fall before them
- many enemies of the church have come and gone, but it persists in it’s ministry and love
And when he says, "I will also keep you from the hour of trial..."
- they will be spared harm
This was a time when the - Whole world - world known to them at the time
Was controlled by the Romans, who were beginning intense persecutions of Christians.
- this would be a promise that they would avoid the worst of this round of persecution
2. Future - "I am coming soon..."
future reward for continued faithfulness
- "I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never will he leave it"
- "I will write on him the name of my God... I will also write on him my new name"
These promises point toward permanence
In the volatile, hostile world that they lived in,
they could know with certainty that Jesus would not leave them,
and that they could look forward to his reward for them.
Keeping it simple in a complicated world.
Letting our lives, and then our mouths,
speak the words of our message, our hope, our reward.
I want to close with the story of one man who stood as an example for this kind of witness. It’s a longer story, but is so epitomizes living a life that shows the message:
Carl was a quiet man. He didn’t talk much. He would always greet you with a big smile and a firm handshake. Even after living in our neighborhood for over 50 years, no one could really say they knew him very well.
Before his retirement, he took the bus to work each morning. The lone sight of him walking down the street often worried us. He had a slight limp from a bullet wound received in WWII. Watching him, we worried that although he had survived WWII, he may not make it through our changing uptown neighborhood with its ever-increasing random violence, gangs, and drug activity.