What Kind of Letter Would We Receive?
Each church has a personality, just like each one of us. Congregations come in all shapes and sizes — location, size of building, attendance, scripturally organized or not. Have you ever thought, “What would Jesus say about the church at Tidewater?” About 2,000 years ago, Jesus wrote letters to the seven churches in Asia, recorded for us in Revelation. Those letters combined praise with rebuke. What Jesus wrote to them was exactly what those churches needed to hear.
Would Jesus rebuke us for declining or praise us for improving? The church at Ephesus is rebuked because they had left their first love (Rev. 2:4). God was not at the top of their priority list. God’s importance to them had declined, and Jesus rebukes them to return to where they once were.
Would Jesus rebuke us for being lukewarm or praise us for using our strength? Jesus rebuked the Laodiceans because they were lukewarm (Rev. 3:15-16). A lukewarm drink is one that has become so affected by its environment that it no longer has any use. That was Laodicea. They no longer had any strength; their efforts were half-hearted.
Would Jesus rebuke us for focusing on the physical or praise us for being spiritually-minded? Again, the Laodiceans are rebuked because they were confident in their riches (Rev. 3:17). They were focused on physical things, while being blind to their spiritual needs.
Would Jesus rebuke us for trusting in ourselves or praise us for trusting in God? Again, the Laodiceans are the target (Rev. 3:17-18). They trusted in themselves and not in God. In fact, they were commanded to repent (v. 19) so that they could clear their eyes and truly see God and His beauty.
Would Jesus rebuke us for only having a reputation or praise us for real strength and life? Jesus rebukes the church at Sardis because all it had was a reputation (3:1). They did not have any real strength, except for a few who worked hard (v. 4).
What Jesus saw in each of the seven churches — both positive and negative — we can make application today here at Tidewater.
-- Steven Matthews