This church has done nothing wrong. Besides the church in Philadelphia,
Smyrna is the only church not to get their comeuppance from Christ.
That’s saying something. Perhaps more than anything else, it tells me
that it’s a good thing I wasn’t part of it. I would’ve ruined their
perfect track record.
The story goes that the devout Jewish citizens of Smyrna were getting
sick and tired of their Christian counterparts  growing so rapidly,
and  riding on their Jewish, Imperial coattails (btw, special thanks
to N.T. Wright for this little gem: “that the conflict between the early
Christians and practicing Jews was essentially a conflict within
Judaism…and not an early precedent for anti-Semitism”). So the Jewish
congregants did their best to divorce their Christian cousins. With this
separation came incredible amounts of trouble for the Christians; who,
by the way, were already in incredible amounts of trouble. Christians
had a horrible reputation in the Roman Empire. They were accused of
cannibalism (because they “ate the flesh and drank the blood of Christ”
during communion), having orgies (because their practice of loving one
another <'agape-ing' & 'commun-ing' at Love Feasts> sounded
suspiciously sexual to the Romans), destroying families (because
families often disowned Christian converts), atheism (because they
refused to worship Caesar), sedition (because they refused to say
‘Caesar is Lord’), and arson (because Christians  claimed God was a
consuming fire, and  that the world would one day be purified by
In short, they saw us as cannibal, porn-star, home-wrecking atheists who hated the president and wanted the world to burn.
Well, at least Jesus didn’t find anything wrong with them.
Which is kind of the point.
We may suffer. We may be hated. We may be slandered. We may lose
friends. We may be poor. We may go to prison. But that’s the test of
life. And the church in Smyrna passed.
I hope I do, too.