To the angel of the church of Southern Hills write….
What would Jesus’ next words be to us as a church?
I have been challenged by this thought in recent months after reading the book of Revelation. For a book so often thought of for its complexity and shrouded prophecy, I believe we Christ followers may fail to realize the blunt clarity of the first three chapters. We seem to read through them, looking forward to the drama of the later chapters and do not pause to truly consider these chapters which contain the personal letters sent, from Jesus Himself, to seven different churches.
What would Jesus write to us specifically at Southern Hills (or fill in any church name)?
In these letters we call the Book of Revelation, Jesus describes Himself differently at each letter’s beginning and the reaction He intends to invoke from each church. Read for yourself and observe the uniqueness of each letter, but in each one, His intent is crystal clear: the message matters to Christ, and we are accountable for it.
With the exception of one, in these letters, Jesus addresses weaknesses, sin, and trouble He sees within the church. A few of the churches seem almost completely lost by His examination. Others He praised for their strong points, but He shows concern for the gaps and gives clear warnings to them. Why? Because churches carry His message, and the health of the church directly affects the message. So Jesus calls the churches, He calls us, to remember, repent, and hold on to what is true.
It is important we as a church take the mission seriously. This isn’t mere religion. It’s not cheap practices or stubborn tradition. It is about bending to the will of God, allowing Him to custom design our purpose. He clearly states, over and over throughout the Bible, He is after our hearts, wanting to redeem and refine us. So, just like these letters in Revelation, the message is always the same but tailored specifically to the issue at hand.
For example, recently at a men’s group I attend, I recall one of the guys reflecting on God’s view of sin saying, “It’s like God says, ‘I don’t care about the sin. I sent someone a long time ago to handle that.’” What a powerful message of the Gospel to a fellow Christ follower entangled in guilt and shame! Same message, tailored specifically.
A strong quote I’ve committed to memory written by Marcus Luttrell in Lone Survivor is, “No matter how much it hurts, how dark it gets, or no matter how far you fall, you are never out of the fight.” A powerful reminder from God to a weary and battered Christ follower. To faithfully press into the adversity laid before you, and Christ will press into you. Same message, tailored specifically.
What we say to the world through our conduct, our words, and our actions is important. The message we present matters to Jesus. Let’s be clear on who God is and to what He calls us to: “That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:19)