Anyway, my thoughts with all this input drifted back to Jesus assessment of the 7 churches at the beginning of Revelation and what we at GBC might learn from it.
When God let us know through John how things will end and when Heaven on Earth will return, it started with an open letter to 7 churches in Asia at the time. Sadly, the importance and relevance of this has often been lost in the debate and discussion about the end times and how it’ll all unfold. It’s unfortunate because often the powerful messages held in the letters are skimmed over.
So what was it all about? They’re a circulating letter meaning all 7 go to all the churches but even more it’s an x-ray view of what’s happening there. It’s a 1st century version of Wikileaks, an honest, open assessment of what REALLY is going on there as God sees it, not as is projected by the church itself or by how society views them. It really is a fascinating read when you separate it from seven-headed dragons, lakes of fire and descriptions of angels. Yet you really can’t separate them.
The point of the letter is to tell what’s to come, the purpose of the initial assessment of the churches is for them to know where they stand with God. He says at some point in each of the 7 letters: I know your deeds (Rev. 2:2,2:9, 2:13, 2:19, 3:1, 3:8, 3:15)
And this is where we come in.
For some of the churches, the assessment is pretty negative. For others despite an air of success they’re roundly condemned. God exhorts them to repent, to turn from the things that He hates and live according to what they’ve been taught. He tells them: wake up! It’s a challenge to throw off complacency and even self-sufficiency because a time of judgment is coming and those found lacking will not be happy with the results.
For other churches it’s the opposite. They’re struggling, under pressure, facing persecution and God tells them: hold on! It’s an encouragement that things will get better and everything will be made right in the end as every action and deed will be accounted for.
The great thing for we here at GBC, or for any church today really, is we now have something to measure against. Yes, you can argue we have the whole scripture but that can be daunting at times and even confusing when we look at all the different ways of assessing success and failure. Yet here in chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation we have a concise and focused assessment of what GOD views as important and unimportant and how HE views it. We then have the opportunity to measure ourselves against this and see how we stand in that context.
For some, it will be encouraging, for others, very sobering.
So I come back to the original question: who is GBC? I see us having elements of several of the churches. I, sadly, see elements of Ephesus, a struggle with loving those around us. I see also some bits of Laodicea, a sometimes lukewarm attitude and focus on our own comfort. But in balance, I also see Philadelphia, a patient endurance, staying true to the faith despite pressure and upset, our great service and staying true to the word of God.
So who then is GBC? I would say we are a church in transition since we reflect elements of several. The more important question then becomes: where are we going?
He knows our deeds, He knows our heart, the issue then becomes, what are we, as the body of Christ, His visible representative, going to do with our Wikileak? We make up the body, we impact it by our actions or lack of them, we respond to the call of the Holy Spirit. Don’t say: what are THEY doing about it? Instead ask yourself: what am I going to do to ensure that when we face the Lord at the great (and for some, terrible) time of judgment we read about in Revelation 20 we will be found faithful? I pray when that time comes we’ll hear the words as the faithful servant did when he did something positive with his talents: well done (Matthew 25:21,23).