Smyrna: The Crowned Church
Herman Lange, a German Christian who was executed by the Nazis during World War II. In his cell on the night before he was to be killed, Lange wrote a note to his parents. He said two feelings occupied his mind: "I am, first, in a joyous mood, and second, filled with great anticipation." Then he made this beautiful affirmation: "In Christ I have put my faith, and precisely today I have faith in Him more firmly than ever." Finally he urged his parents to read the New Testament for comfort: "Look where you will, everywhere you will find jubilation over the grace that makes us children of God. What can befall a child of God? Of what should I be afraid? On the contrary, rejoice!"
I fear dying, but I don?t fear death because I am a Christian. I believe that now, because I am not in situation where I am facing death, but how would I react if I were? Deb Wise gave me a great example of this as she dealt with the realities of cancer. At first she was scared, discouraged, but then as she realized that She was a Christian and so was her family, she was able to look at all the possibilities of cancer with the same reaction. No matter what might happen, she was at peace because was there to care for her and her family. Even if the worst came true and she was to die, she would see her family again in Heaven as they were all Christians.
It?s that understanding in our hearts as well as our minds that help us face whatever comes before us in our lives.
I. Poor, but Rich
A. The Wealth of Smyrna
1. Smyrna was a very wealthy city.
2. It was situated as a perfect harbor and entry way into that part of Asia Minor.
3. Even today is a thriving seaport of 200,000 people
4. During Roman times it was a magnificent city of beautiful public buildings and temples, mostly to the Roman Emperors.
5. One of the most incredible sights was ?golden street? because 5 great temples were built along this road.
6. Everywhere you looked you saw a city of untold wealth
B. Poverty of the Christians
1. In this city of great wealth was a group of Christians who didn?t seem to share in the wealth all around them.
2. You notice the poverty even greater when you have abject poverty next to incredible wealth.
a) When I say poor, I mean poor.
b) the Gr. word for poor used here means abject poverty.
3. It is quite possible that since these people wouldn?t worship the Emperor, they were excluded from the craft guilds where most of the money making opportunities were.
a) As a sign of religious and political loyalty, every Roman citizen of the city had to give a yearly sacrifice on the altar of Caesar. You were then given a certificate showing you had fulfilled this obligation.
b) Obviously the Christians of the city wouldn?t do this and paid a penalty more dearly than most Christians.
c) They could even be put to death for not sacrificing to Caesar.
C. Wealth of The Christians
1. God reminds these destitute saints that in fact they were richer by far than anyone else there.
2. How could that be?