February 13, 2024

A Healthy Church’s Troubles

Revelation 2:8-10; Acts 18:1-8

Paul devoted himself . . . to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. But when they . . . became abusive, he . . . said . . . “From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”

—  Acts 18:5-6

The apostle Paul had become God’s “chosen instrument to proclaim [Jesus’] name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel” (Acts 9:15). As Paul ministered across Asia Minor, Macedonia, and Greece, his method was to go first to Jewish synagogues and then to the Gentiles, sharing the good news of Jesus. Acts 18:1-8 describes Paul’s ministry in Corinth.

Some of the Jewish people there believed the gospel, but others “opposed Paul and became abusive.” So Paul shook out his clothes in protest and moved along, saying he would go and preach to the Gentiles.

In Smyrna a similar situation developed. The church of Jesus was being persecuted by people who said they were Jews, God’s original chosen people, but they were being influenced by Satan.

Though Jesus’ church there was healthy, it faced troubles. Jesus said he knew the people’s affliction and suffering for being his followers. He also knew their poverty. In the bustling city of Smyrna business thrived, but unless you offered incense to the city’s gods, you could not do business there. Without an income, you became poor. Yet Jesus said they were rich! The kingdom of God operates on a different scale: amazing grace!

Friends, be strong in Jesus. All who are children of God in Christ will wear the victor’s crown.

Faithful Father, help us to be strong in testifying to your great faithfulness and love. Amen.

About the author — Evan Heerema

Evan Heerema is a retired pastor who served churches in Washington state and in Michigan. He was also on the teaching staff at Kuyper College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for ten years. He and his wife are the parents of two daughters and the grandparents of two grandsons.

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