Have you ever considered a vacation in Smyrna? You might find out something about your worth. You probably would not choose that destination, it does not sound like a great place. From a resident’s point of view it is a place of affliction and poverty. Some of the people there make false claims about themselves concerning their righteousness, but the Spirit says that they are a synagogue of Satan. Oh, that was not a compliment. The encouragement from the Spirit seems to be,
‘Oh, by the way, you will suffer and be put in prison (as a test), you will be persecuted (for a limited time) even to the point of death, but don’t worry about it. Just stay faithful and you will get some kind of authority/reward/crown and the second death will not hurt you at all.’
However, the Spirit calls the church in Smyrna “Rich.” Would you like to go to this rich place? The unfortunate truth is that most of us live there at least from time to time. Some of us in the church, the ones who have it “all figured out” but not really, live very close to the synagogue of Satan. Some might even be Deacons in that synagogue. I take no pleasure in saying that, but it might be true. Others of us live in the shadow of that synagogue and are under its persecution.
So what is the Spirit saying to the church in Smyrna and what is the Spirit saying to the church at large? I think the message is about worth. For example, don’t measure your worth by your circumstance. The Smyrna church was in horrible poverty and yet they were rich in the things of God. They were rich in mercy. They had not set themselves up as the authorities that rule everything. They did not have to make a judgement on everyone. They understood and practiced humility and meekness. This may be why the church gets the crown of life. The crown of life might signify authority, wealth and health.
Another thing that the Spirit might be saying to the church may be a warning against the façade. God desires to drive falseness from our soul. He calls this falseness a synagogue of Satan. It seems like there is a clear choice to be made. Join the synagogue of Satan with all of its accusations, and self-important righteousness, which is a mean spirited righteousness that is evil in every aspect, or practice humility and submit yourself to God to join His way. The former is easier and seems successful and the latter seems lowly, but maybe it is the other way around. Maybe the Spirit is saying that things are not always the way they seem in our limited perspectives. Maybe the Spirit is saying hang on…the rescuer is coming, hang on…
What do you think the Spirit is saying to the churches? See you next in Pergamum.