Do you feel like you just started a guided tour? Can’t you just hear the tour guide talking over his mobile microphone, giving you all the measurements, dates, and such so you can know the historical elements of the building? We are just beginning with the picture of God’s new dwelling place.
Am I the only one that got out a piece of paper and sketched what this might have looked like? I’m very visual, and often I try to create something tangible to look at using the description I am given. In this case, I have a nice narrow rectangle with a smaller rectangle jutting out from the front.
What is it about the human psyche that causes us to want to be like someone else? Why are we never comfortable in our own skin? In our business, I’ve been known to teach on the trap of “compare-itis.” That is when we find ourselves stuck in a pattern of looking at those around us, comparing ourselves in unhealthy ways. We find ourselves wanting to be thinner, younger (or older), better speakers, better musicians, have nicer clothes, bigger house, etc. We are always striving to have a better this or better that.
You’d be fooling yourself if you say you’ve never done any of this comparing. Paul is giving us some words of wisdom here. Instead of imitating another because of a physical attribute, Paul wants us to imitate those with greater faith than we have. I take it a step farther and remember the fad of “WWJD” – that is, What Would Jesus Do?
What is your first reaction when someone brings harm to you or someone you know? Is it getting even? What should we think when we read in the Bible where it says “an eye for an eye”? What’s that all about?
Paul is clear here in this verse. We should not repay evil with evil. I remember being picked on as a child. Hurtful words are certainly evil in my book. It was so tempting to lash back with more of the same, but I didn’t have the courage. Looking back, it seems my fear actually kept me from sinning in return.
Remember the Beatitudes from Matthew’s gospel? Today we see the 2nd in the similar blessings of Jesus coming to us in Revelation. I didn’t recognize the first one in Revelation 1:3, “God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near.” In today’s passage, in verse 13, “Blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, they are blessed indeed, for they will rest from their hard work; for their good deeds follow them!”
Why do we have more “beatitudes” (there will be a total of seven in Revelation)? Don’t you think Jesus knew his followers would need more encouragement all those years later? These new blessings were directed first to the seven churches we read about when we began our journey through Revelation. Jesus’ new blessings reinvigorate His followers to hold on and to realize that, while it’s not always easy to be a Christian, it would be worth it! In other words, “stay the course!”
You can really see the love of Jesus for the church in Philadelphia. This is another church (like Smyrna) who gets no rebuke. They are small and weak, the perfect storm for God to be glorified. When we feel weak and rely on the power of God to rescue us or sustain us, God is glorified. When we can set aside our own ambitions and desire for power or recognition, realizing we are nothing without God, God can work inside us, too.
What did you think about the way Jesus introduces himself to the church in Philadelphia. “This is the message from the one who is holy and true, the one who has the key of David. What he opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open.” The “key of David” is our gospel message. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Jesus is the one who can open the doors of heaven to us. There isn’t anything we can do to open those doors. If Jesus allows us in, nobody can stop us. So how do we make sure he opens the door for us?