Summary: The Church at Smyrna is a church which received no criticism from the Lord but much abuse from both the culture and the "congregation" (those who ’say’ they are Jews)
The “Beat Up” or “Bloodied” Church
* From my observation we live in an increasingly violent culture. Hardly a day passes when we don’t hear of someone being killed or attacked. An honest look at our entertainment would indicate that America has bought into fighting as a valid style of entertainment. It would seem that Boxing has almost lost its market in lieu of WWF, Toughman, Ultimate fighting, & Cage Combats. One of the marks of these events are how bloody they are & and beat up the loser seems to get. Sadly, millions see someone being beaten up & bloodied as entertaining.
* The church at Smyrna was a church which could be described, at least from a human standpoint, as beat up & bloodied. As Jesus looks at them with those eyes of fire, He sees to the very heart of their circumstances.
* (TEXT) The church at Smyrna is a very unique local church (as are all local churches). Jesus speaks to each church a very personal word. From Him, “one size doesn’t fit all.” What He knows is very personal.
* Smyrna was a wealth, booming, and affluent city where the economy was booming and jobs seemed to be abounding. From a community-development standpoint, it had been well-planned as it was on the normal trade routes. Militarily, to this point they had never been on the losing side of a battle, so all that the community did seem too successful.
* Interestingly, the name for this seemingly great city means ‘bitter’ and comes from the word myrrh. Myrrh has many uses, but most all surround suffering, martyrdom, and death. The name itself means ‘bitter.’ What a name for a community, but it could well describe the conditions for the church located there.
* I submit that the environment for Smyrna and in America today is quite similar. While most people seem to have plenty, there is little to no time for Christ, His church, and His call. As long as His call doesn’t interfere with my own agenda, all is well. As long as the church doesn’t ask for too much and just gives me what I need, I’m fine. As long as Jesus doesn’t require me to change, all is good. Yet NONE of our conditions will ever stand because His call will always interfere with your life, His church is designed to give you what you need only as a response to your giving, and Christ – He is about changing your life. Status quo is never okay with Him. This church who had been so beat up & bloodied is the only church to which Christ gives no condemnation or correction. Ephesus was a ministry machine and yet Christ said, “I have one thing against you.”
* To the church in Pergamum he said (next week), “I know you are doing some good things, but I have SEVERAL things against you.” To the Church in Thyatira He said, “You are staying with in many ways but I have something against you.” In fact, the only church which Christ offered no word of condemnation was this church who had been so abused for their faith in and commitment to Christ.
* My first note is to remind us that these people we completely His. They had trusted Christ as Savior and committed their hearts, lives, priorities, and all that they had to Him. They would not cave into the pressure of the culture, they would not turn their backs on what it meant to be His and live like Him, and they would not compromise to the pressure. They had a bad case of Jesus (which is the call to us.)!
1. His Commendation – During the course of my ministry I have had the opportunity to serve in Military communities. Many times I have been invited and have attended ceremonies to award a service person a commendation. It seems to me that commendations are serious and well thought out. Certainly, Jesus does. It is with those two words of His, which should strike fear into all who hears it. HE says, “I know.”
a. I know the pressure you live under – Verse 9 in the HCSB uses the word “tribulation” but it could be affliction, suffering, and/or pressure. In fact, the Greek word (thlipsin) speaks of intense pressure. The picture is of a man under a large stone or heavy weight, and the weight is so heavy that ultimately, it kills. Picture yourself on a rocky mountain side when an avalanche occurs and you are pinned under a rock. You know if someone ELSE doesn’t come and remove the weight you will die. It reminds me of a friend from 30 years ago. His name happened to be Jerry. He was working under his car and it fell on him. What we were told was that because he was a big, strong man, he survived for a while but because he was alone, his body finally gave in. Truth is, most of us know of pressure, even crushing pressure. It could come from many sources or for many reasons. (I.E. Financial, Family, Business, School, etc). What is the reason for your pressure? For the church at Smyrna, it was because of their Christlikeness. Contrary to some of the modern-day opinion, ‘living for Christ will not make you popular, but it will make you powerful.’ That is, powerful enough to live for Him & with Him. If you are living for Christ, people will know it. If people know it, quite likely, you’ll lose some ‘friends.’ However, you will have the heart of Christ and the hand of Christ watching over and after you. In His divine and eternal plan, you will find your way to strength, satisfaction & joy.