The Church in every time and place needs to be both encouraged and challenged:
- encouraged that even though the going may be difficult, the Lord will finally triumph over all evil &
- challenged to bring us back into line with the truth of God in Christ and how he calls us to live.
This is the core message of the book of Revelation. John, in exile on the island of Patmos, was writing around 95 A.D. to Christians who were experiencing significant persecution during the reign of the Roman emperor Domitian. We also see from the early chapters of the book that the church was struggling with internal problems of false teaching and ungodly living. These matters needed urgent remedial action.
In Revelation 1, the risen and exalted Jesus begins his message to the Church with a reminder of God’s eternal being, then speaks of his own saving work and promised return. It is in the light of these realities that Christians in every age are called to live as followers of Jesus. What we see in the seven letters to the churches in Revelation 2 & 3 is that when we fall short of the mark, the Lord calls us back to a renewed faithfulness to him. There’s a basic pattern that emerges in the letters – Jesus reminds his church of who he is, commends them for their faithfulness, identifies matters that are not as they should be, calls upon them to address these issues, warns of the consequences of failing to do so and promises reward to those who return to how God would have them live. In each of the seven letters, the churches are encouraged to listen to what the Spirit is saying to them.
As we sit with these early chapters of Revelation in the coming weeks at our 8am and 10am services, the challenge is for us to hear afresh what the Spirit is saying to his church today. We will hear messages of both comfort and challenge, the Lord calling us to his church to reflect his light to the world in which we live.
“I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
“You are the light of the world. … let your light shine before others,
so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5: 14-16)