By Elizabeth Prata
In the first century, there were 7 churches Jesus caused John to write messages for. These were actual churches with actual congregations, doing and saying actual things. Jesus told apostle John, exiled at Patmos, what to write to these congregations. Jesus spoke commendations, criticisms, and instructions. Not all 7 churches were commended. Not all 7 churches were criticized. All had an instruction, though.
The church at Smyrna and the church at Philadelphia were not criticized. The church at Laodicea was not commended. The rest had both.
The churches were: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea.
Can you imagine being assembled on Sunday, hearing a knock on the church door, a messenger arriving and handing a scroll to your pastor, and the pastor reads a letter from the head of the Church, Jesus Christ Himself? Jesus is very much alive and in charge of His global body of worshipers, AKA His bride. He was directly involved then, and He is directly involved now.
Each of the seven churches was not only an actual church but is also a type of church dealing with a problem mentioned in the letters. The problem is not unique to that church for that time. There are always the same kind of systemic problems many churches deal with and have been recurring throughout the centuries. Always, there is a church somewhere that is busy but not alive. Always, somewhere, is a church that is indifferent and lukewarm. On this earth, there is a collection of churches gracefully enduring suffering, or being persecuted. And so on.
Today, consider these churches, their problems, and meditate on whether you are one of the congregants causing the same problem they were criticized for. Look at the commendations and consider what you might do to contribute to a recommendation, if Jesus were to write your church a letter.
Please read Revelation 1-3, it is not hard. Those chapters offer the reader plain language and it’s not heavily symbolic. And, remember, it’s the only book of the Bible that promises twice you will be blessed for reading it.