About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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Could Jesus Be Unhappy With Your Church?


In response to my last article I was asked why I was negative about todayís church.  Well, if only 17 percent of Canadians attend a weekly traditional  church service itís only reasonable to ask why this is so, which requires some thinking about negative issues.  


The vision given to John in the book of Revelation came to him around 90 to 95 AD, roughly 60 years after Jesusí ascension and about 30 years after Paul and Peter were killed.  Part of the vision contained 7 letters from Jesus written to 7 specific second generation churches.  From these letters we learn that Jesus was unhappy with 5 of these churches, which makes me wonder if He could be unhappy with any of our churches today.    


The Ephesian church was hard working, didnít tolerate wickedness, tested false apostles, and endured much hardship. (Rev. 2:1-8) That sounds pretty good to me but  Jesus held some things against this church.    


Despite popular opinion, Jesus does hold things against those He has entrusted His church to when they fail to be good stewards for Him.  This church lost its first love by replacing their heart felt desire to serve Jesus with tradition and routine, much like some churches today.       


To fix this problem Jesus told them to do the things they did in their early years of faith, much like a marriage counselor tells married couples to start dating like they did in their youth.  By doing the things we did in past times of heart felt passion, thereís a good chance weíll re-ignite lost passion in the process.         


The church at Smyrna was materially poor, yet spiritually rich. (Rev. 2:8-12)  Surprisingly Jesus didnít scold them for their poverty.  Apparently He doesnít  believe in North American style Prosperity Teaching.  Ironically, this poverty stricken church was one of the  2 churches that Jesus didnít find fault with.  Material poverty doesnít seem to bother Jesus as much as spiritual poverty does.  Yet much of todayís church seems overtaken with the idea that bigger and richer is better.      


The church at Pergamum lived in the midst of satanís throne and was continually assaulted by him, but they didnít forsake their faith in Jesus. (Rev. 2:12-18)  Still this church allowed certain people in their midst to teach false doctrine which led some to immoral living.  They didnít think allowing such false teaching was a problem but it sure was a problem to Jesus.


Jesus told them to repent of both the bad teaching and their tolerance towards this teaching or else Heíd come and fight against them.  Did you ever think that Jesus would really fight against His own church?  Apparently He would.  I wonder if He thinks about such things today.     


Good teaching and right living does matter to Jesus, and if it matters to Him it should matter to us.  Yet right teaching is fast becoming a matter of relevance in our churches, meaning that no teaching is absolute.   I canít see Jesus liking the idea that whatís right for Him might not be right for us.         


The church at Thyatira had lots of love, faith, and perseverance. They actually served more at this point in time than they did in earlier years. (Rev. 2:18-29 )    Still  Jesus wasnít totally happy with them either.  They tolerated a false prophetess and her teaching that led some into immorality.  Jesus wanted this tolerance to stop and the offenders to repent or else Heíd cause them to suffer intensely. Despite another popular opinion, Jesus can cause His people to suffer when they refuse to repent.  


The church at Sardis had a reputation of being alive but Jesus said they were really dead. (Rev. 3:1-7)  He told them to strengthen what they had left before they lost that too.  Just because a church appears to be alive doesnít mean it is.  Outward enthusiasm doesnít always mean thereís inner holiness.  If youíre looking for enthusiasm thereís always a football game or your local bar.        


The church at Laodicea was lukewarm, neither hot or  cold. (Rev. 3:14-22)  Unless they repented of this passivity Jesus would spit them out of His mouth. And my mother told me that spiting wasnít nice.    


This church was a mirror image of the society around them which was their problem. They were rich, had acquired great wealth, and needed nothing.  They didnít need Jesus to keep them going.  Some of our churches have become self-perpetuating as well. Once a church reaches a certain population, and as long as it has some  good fund raisers, it can grow with or without Jesus.      


Jesus said these people were wretched, pitiful and poor.  Thatís quite a commentary.  He couldnít even attend their gatherings.  He is seen outside, knocking on their door and asking in.  Imagine that, Jesus wasnít allowed into His own church.  How many times have I heard an opening prayer inviting Jesus into a meeting but the attendees fail to unlock the doors of their hearts, so Heís left outside, sitting on their door step. 


All of the above issues that Jesus was unhappy with exist in one form or another in todayís church. If this is indeed the case, then thereís a good chance that Jesus is unhappy with some of us today.  So we might want to think about how Jesus admonished these churches and do some repenting ourselves.



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