Summary: If Jesus loves the church then I should love the church. And I should love the church the same way Jesus does. He doesn’t love his bride because she’s perfect. Jesus loves his bride because she belongs to him. He loves her warts and all.
“Love the Church Honestly”
If you’re joining us today for the first time ever or the first time in a while, we’re doing a devotional study through the book of Revelation. Our goal is to get to the heart of the message of Revelation. If you would take your Bibles and turn to the 2nd and 3rd chapters of Revelation.
We are not using this last book of the Bible as an almanac to predict the future nor are we using it as a calendar to count down the end times. We’re looking at the broader themes of the book.
It isn’t given to us as an almanac or a calendar. Revelation is given to us as a guidebook for discipleship. It’s a guidebook from which we can learn how to remain faithful to God while living in a hostile culture. It’s a template to apply over any time period of history. It helps us to be better disciples no matter what time and culture we live in. It’s an instruction manual on how to have peace in a world that is falling to pieces.
One of the most important principles in studying any book in the Bible is the AIM of the book. This principle is especially true for the book of Revelation. AIM stands for the Author’s Intended Meaning.
Each individual writer in the Bible had a specific message to deliver to a specific audience. If we can understand who John was writing to and the times and culture in which they lived, we can better understand the AIM of Revelation.
In Rev. 1:4, John says that the book of Revelation is a circular letter – a letter to be circulated to seven churches in the Roman province of Asia – what we know as the western portion of Turkey today. These churches are located in seven different cities – Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. Those cities aren’t the only locations of churches in that section of the Roman empire. These churches are representative of the church in the broader sense.
The number seven denotes completeness. What is said to these seven churches is intended to be heard by every church. After specific mention of each of the seven churches, we’re told, “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
I wish we could camp out in Revelation 2 and 3. I foresee sometime in the next several years doing a 7 week study through the seven churches of Revelation but today we can only focus on the main themes.
This morning we need to spotlight Jesus and his love for the church – both the local congregations and the church worldwide. In Ephesians 5, Paul draws the correlation between the marriage of a man and a woman and the church as the bride of Christ. Later in the book of Revelation we learn about the marriage supper of the Lamb.
No one should ever disrespect the bride. It would produce a quick reaction from the groom. You just don’t walk up to the groom at the wedding ceremony and ask, “Who’s the chunk in the white dress?” It might just get you a punch to the face. Far more than any earthly groom, Jesus loves his bride – the church.
It bothers me that the church is held in such low opinion. While I recognize that some of the contempt toward the church is rightly deserved because of some of the behavior of its leaders and members, I also know that the church is the chosen way for the followers of Jesus to join together and be effective as his witness in this world.
If Jesus loves the church then I should love the church. And I should love the church the same way Jesus does. He doesn’t love his bride because she’s perfect. Jesus loves his bride because she belongs to him. He loves her warts and all. The church is not designed to be a museum to display perfect people. It’s a hospital where people sick with sin find hope and help in this world.
That’s what we’ll find today in our study passage. The church is made up of people who struggle. We face problems from within and without. Yet we have hope because of Jesus Christ.
He loves his bride honestly – warts and all. It’s that way in a good marriage. You don’t love the other person because they’re flawless. You love them in spite of their flaws. You love them not for what they do but sometimes you love them despite what they do. We should love the church honestly as well.
Rev. 2:1-3:22 – “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.