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?
3. That?s a question we even struggle with today
4. We are wealthy because we have something that outlasts anything on earth?Salvation
a) Our wealth doesn?t come from material thing.
b) It comes from spiritual peace and confidence.
c) We may never get rich as the world sees richness.
d) Yet the treasures we have laid up in Heaven!
e) No amount of money could ever buy What God has given us freely.
f) There is a saying, ?keep the main thing the main thing?
g) We need to remember the main thing is our relationship with God, nothing else should matter as much.
II. The Crowns of Smyrna
A. Word play
1. God uses some word plays when talking to the Christians in Smyrna.
2. He talks about the crown of life in vs 10.
B. A crown had a couple of significant meanings to the people of Smyrna.
1. Smyrna?s main temple on the Golden street were all on hills called acropolis.
a) These temples stood above the rest of the city, so they called Smyrna the crowned city.
b) It was also very high on the ?A? list of the Roman government and got special treatment.
c) Another reason for it being a crowned city.
2. The second meaning of crown was the wreath given to the winners of the athletic games and it was a highly prized reward