Thursday, May 31, 2012

Home-wrecking Atheists?

Revelation 2.8-11

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 [1] growing so rapidly, and [2] 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 [1] claimed God was a consuming fire, and [2] that the world would one day be purified by God).

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.

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