Day 2

The Seven Churches

from the Revelation reading plan

Revelation 2:1-29, Revelation 3:1-22, Matthew 22:34-39

BY Sharon Hodde Miller

“Things are getting worse and worse.”

When we look at the news, the culture, the entertainment, and even the Church today, it’s easy to feel as if everything is slowly getting worse. It’s tempting to believe that the world is gradually unraveling, and that we are moving further away from truth, instead of toward it.

Whenever we feel this cynicism begin to creep in, the temptation is to idealize the generations that have gone before us. We think, Our parents’ generation, our grandparents’ generation, the earliest Christians—they had it all together. Things weren’t as bad back then!

I struggle with this mentality often. There are days when I feel jaded about Christians and about the Church. I log onto social media and see division and in-fighting, or I read about a pastor failing his congregation and his family. I see name-calling and judgment and the drawing of big, deep lines, and my heart wants to harden toward it all.

On those days when we are tempted to dismiss the world with a flick of the wrist, when we find ourselves looking down on other Christians who “aren’t doing it right,” and when we despair that the Church’s reputation is hopelessly smeared, Revelation 2–3 has a word for us.

In these chapters, written just a generation after Jesus’s resurrection, many churches are distracted and lost. Although they are working hard and striving to be faithful, God also levels the following charges against them:

They had forsaken their first love (2:4).
They participated in pagan rituals (2:14).
They were sexually immoral (2:14).
They embraced false teaching (2:15, 20).
They had a reputation of being alive, but they were dead (3:1).
They were lukewarm, neither hot nor cold (3:16).

All this, only sixty years after Jesus walked the earth.

What this tells us is that the world is not simply getting worse, and neither is the Church. Following Jesus has always been hard. Faithfulness to God has always come unnaturally. Ever since sin entered the world, human nature has found it difficult to obey.

And that is exactly why we need a Savior.

The good news of Jesus Christ begins with the bad news that we are broken. We have always been distracted. We have always resisted the truth. It was true two thousand years ago, and it is just as true today. Therefore, these letters to the seven churches in Asia minor are important for us as well. “Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:29).

But our brokenness has never stopped God. Our division, our fighting, our apathy, our immorality, even our bad theology—none of it has ever stopped God. So when we read Revelation 2–3, we can do three things. First, we can remember that humanity is not getting worse, and neither is the Church—the temptation to turn away from God and His ways has always been there. Second, we can welcome this list of rebukes as an opportunity to identify our own areas of need.

And finally, we can hope. In Revelation 3:19, God says, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline” (NIV). When we see darkness in the world—no matter how great—we don’t have to despair, and our hearts don’t have to grow hard. Instead, we can consider the possibility that God is allowing us to see these things, so that He can redeem them.

Post Comments (73)

73 thoughts on "The Seven Churches"

  1. Mikayla Andrews says:

    No longer my life but His

  2. Jewell Harris says:

    In the year 2005 i was diagnosed with SLE Lupus but prior to this confirmation when I asked the Lord G-D what was wrong with me it was written across my forehead in capital letters the word LUPUS but it was truly a jarring when the EIN-SOF recently revealed the truth in the message of the the word LUPUS it is a Star and it reads as The Brokeness of the body of the Messiah we don’t oftentimes study the 4 Psalms that sounds the truth of God Heavenly Witnesses whom The Father named them all
    Thank You for letting know your Truths
    In God We Trust
    Psalm 22

  3. Christi Schneidau says:

    May I ask the Lord to show me what he wants too teach me when I see the brokenness. Also I want to welcome His discipline and not be afraid of it!

  4. Charne October says:

    Hi All.
    This is all so so good! I decided to do this devotional because of the current series my church is on at the moment.

    Our church has been doing a series on “Escaping Babylon”. It can be found on the account for JoshGen Life on YouTube.
    It has opened my eyes to so much, sho!

  5. Kristin Halfmann says:

    I thought the same thing! Especially the part about to coming naturally! Because in my head it should be natural. We are created by God for God. It’s not like breathing. Knowing God takes effort and I’m not passing the test.
    Day 2 & I’m really glad I chose this plan!!!

  6. Lola Clemmer says:

    Wow this is powerful.

  7. Patty S says:

    I’ve been reading SRT for a while but this is my first time posting to the discussion. What a rich eye-opening truth from this reading! It’s comforting to know that the church has been facing challenges from day 1. It helps to reflect on churches that I’ve been part of, but also looking to the lens of hope, that they’re all striving to be faithful to Jesus. Love how it ended with the message of hope, that God NEVER STOP the pursuit. He gives time for us to repent and to endure the suffering. Praise Jesus!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.