13 December 2007

The seven churches--part 2: Smyrna, the persecuted church

Revelation 2:8-11

And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write,

"These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: 'I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.'"

So many people in America today—especially in churches—don’t know what "persecution" really means. We have been caught up in this idea that because there are people who try and limit where we can and can't pray, this amounts to "persecution." Now, don’t get me wrong. We—the church in America—are being harassed, and our faith and religious exercise is under attack by those on the left.

However, this is not "persecution." What is persecution? It's being arrested for simply naming the name of Jesus. It's being tortured—beaten with lashes from a cane, having a burning red log laid across your bare chest, having your family arrested and beaten, your wife and children sold into slavery—simply because you have declared Jesus Christ to be your Lord.

Go up to the search box at the upper-left corner of the screen. Type the word "persecution." You can read all the updates from Voice of the Martyrs about the real persecution that is really happening to the church in other countries.

And yet, we here in the comfy, cozy little USA just can't bear to go to a church where they don’t have the kind of refreshments we like. Or because they sing those old-timey hymns instead of the hip, cool new stuff. Or because they sing some new stuff instead of sticking to the old-timey hymns. Or maybe the sanctuary is too warm or too cool. Or perhaps the preacher goes on for more than 20 minutes. Or because we get out just a few minutes after 12, and we can't get a good table at Shoney's.

As many people in this country that are headed for Hell, and don’t even know it—and we're worried about our comfort. I have no doubt that there will come a persecution on this country that will dwarf 9/11. Because God holds the church responsible for the spiritual condition of a nation. Look around, church. what do you see? Or do you care?

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