When I read this passage I keep focusing in on one thing. I could write about the history of Smyrna and talk about the details surrounding that, but I think that the important factor to pull from this is persecution. In America we have a much different view and understanding of what persecution is. Our country is very prosperous, and though there has been a big shift in the view of Christianity, people are not, at this point, being killed for their faith. We can still freely gather together and openly worship Jesus. When we think of persecution in our context, it is usually in the form of losing a job or being made fun of or being called a name. (I am in no way saying that those things are not difficult to deal with, please don’t take this wrong).
In verse 9 when persecution is brought up, it says persecution unto death. When I read that it shakes me. I have had times where I haven’t shared the Gospel because I was afraid of what people would think or say, and yet this is talking about enduring persecution unto death for what we believe. Many of us including myself would quickly jump up and say they would die for the Gospel. But today in reading this passage I stepped back and asked myself, “would you really?” I asked this because if I am willing to let the smallest of things prevent me from standing for Jesus why wouldn’t the big things prevent that as well?
As I asked that I read on. As you continue in this passage we see that the ability and the drive to persevere comes from being grounded in knowing the future. This life is temporary! We literally know the future if we know Jesus. Because of that future we can be an unstoppable force in the present event in the face of the worst persecution. We have to remember that this world is the closest we as believers will ever get to Hell, but for the unbeliever this world is as close as they will get to Heaven. So today will you ask yourself this question: is the Gospel really worth it? Am I living with abandon today because I know what is to come tomorrow?
By: Dakota Gragg — Student Ministry Associate