Faithful, even to the point of death
Revelation 2: 8-11
by James Fraser
Jesus told the church in Smyrna that He knew about their afflictions and their poverty. He warned them that the devil would put some of them in prison and that they would have to be faithful, even to the point of death. However, paradoxically, he also assured them that they were rich, that God was in control and that He would reward them with life.
In a Roman arena in AD 155 the gathered crowd were baying for blood. They demanded that the old Christian bishop Polycarp be arrested. So he was dragged before the Roman governor who asked him to deny his faith, swear by the genius of Caesar and curse Christ. Polycarp refused. Read more…
- How do you respond when you hear about people like Polycarp who have been martyred, or people like the Nigerian pastors who risk their lives to follow Jesus?
- In Smyrna there were economic consequences for people who identified themselves with Jesus. The same is true for Christians in Pakistan today. Have you ever considered that following Jesus could negatively affect your material prosperity? How might that happen in your context? Why did Jesus say that the church in Smyrna was rich?
- How does the truth of God’s providence give us assurance when we face adversity?
- ‘This is not just a message for literal martyrs.’ In what specific ways do you need to die to the corruption of the world in your own life? And in what specific ways do you need to start living according to the values of God’s kingdom?