“I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest…. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. ‘Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches” (Rev. 1:12-13, 18-20, ESV).
This passage reveals a great and terrible truth: the Lord Jesus walks in the midst of His people, observing each success, failure, compromise, and rebellion.
In America, we tend to think because there is such great grace, God is pleased with us. Therefore, we might wink at sin, excuse compromise, and condone false teachings and lifestyles that go against sound doctrine. While the Lord does, indeed, sympathize with our weaknesses (see Heb. 4:15), He does not sympathize or condone our callousness, compromise, or casual dismissal of His Word.
If we were to use a grading scale, only two of the seven churches received “A’s,” two churches received “F’s,” and the other four churches received something between a “B” and “D.” It is important to note that Christ so loves each church, but He also wants such love reciprocated. Such love is displayed through the upholding of His Word/ways, as well as the way we approach God and others. Too often churches hold to one side at the cost of the other. Many churches hold to sound teachings, but they lose their love and passion for Christ and others. Many churches strive to love people at the cost of sound teachings and God’s revelation of His character. Still, many churches cave in to the pressures of the culture or trends of modern Christendom.
Setting His love aside, when Jesus evaluates us, what does He see? What “grade” would He give us and to the church we belong? Do we love God and people, without condoning sin? Are we compromising, making justifications for our dabbling with sin? Are we condoning teachings and behaviors that clearly go against His Word? If our grade at all falls below an “A” Jesus commands us to repent—to turn away from our sin and to return to Him.
We cannot afford to play religious games. Christ loves His people with a passionate love, and He is worthy of such love being reciprocated. He shed His blood to redeem and deliver us from sin, not so we could continue to wallow or flirt with it without consequences. Oh, would be to God that He would revive our hearts, and that would would give Him the glory and honor He deserves! And through such a great revival may a lost and dying world witness what a great God we serve! May we be a people He is both pleased with, and honored by, whenever He walks in our midst.