Read Revelation 2:8-11
I don’t know about any of you but I am fairly afraid of conflict. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve taught myself, over the years, to shut down when opposed or because I just hate not being in good standing with other people.
The church in Smyrna was going through some pretty intense opposition. In fact, they were one of only a couple of churches throughout these letters that don’t include a “now, this I have against you” clause. These few sentences from God were intended to encourage them to keep the faith!
I think it’s important to note that God sees their earthly poverty and afflictions but says that they are, in fact, rich.
How could that be?
The Bible speaks several times to eternal rewards that we will receive if we face persecution on this earth. God is telling the church in Smyrna to, essentially, not fear death because there is a reward they will receive in Heaven.
Now, praise the Lord, that, as of now, we don’t experience persecution to the point of death in the United States. However, around the world, it’s a different story. In the time these letters were written, that was a different story. John is writing this revelation account from exile!
“Persecution” can come in all shapes and sizes. It could look like the loss of a friend because they oppose the gospel you preach. It could look like missing out on a job opportunity because you are outspoken about your faith. The Bible is very clear that we shouldn’t shy away from sharing the hope that we have. Peter, in fact, tells us that we should always be prepared to give an answer for the hope that we have. Whatever happens next is in God’s hands.
In the gospel of Luke (chapter 10), Jesus is sending out 72 people to do ministry in the surrounding areas. As He is training them to go out, He instructs them on how to handle conflict and opposition because of their message by providing some perspective:
“Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.”
This is the perspective that we must adopt, that they aren’t rejecting us, they’re rejecting the message and Him who is the origin of the message.
As we live our lives as holy, we mustn’t fear opposition. As God encouraged the church in Smyrna, He knows our struggles and promises ultimate deliverance!
As you take the words above to heart, would you say that you are bold in your faith? Do you shy away from sharing the hope that you have in Jesus for fear of rejection? Do you take that rejection personally? In what way are you going to strive to see the different perspective of Luke 10 and boldly share the gospel with those around you? Lastly, how can you communicate the gospel in love?
Keep the faith!