2005-06-23 - The Letter to the Church at Philadelphia
The Seven Churches, Part 6 - Philadelphia
Revelation 3:7-13 "To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. 8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars - I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. 10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. 11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12 Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
To this faithful church, the Spirit promises rewards for that faithfulness. They will receive the honor of other people paying them tribute, and they will "become a pillar" in God's temple.
God sometimes provides rewards for us, as well. Does this mean ALL our illnesses will be healed? Absolutely not. Some people claim that, based on the passage that Jesus' stripes heal us. However when you think about it logically, that doesn't even make sense. If we were ALWAYS healed here on Earth, then there would be no need for the new bodies Paul speaks of in Corinthians. Besides, God's word tell us that in Heaven, there will be no dying, but it never says that about Earth. If it were true of our Earthly lives, there would be no need for the contrast of the Heavenly future.
Faith Healing that claims everyone will be healed here is not only false doctrine, but sets people up for a fall in their faith, when people - good people, even children - actually die. I've seen people's faith crumble when they just couldn't accept that someone with cancer was going to die etc. It is cruel to give people false hope. And it roadblocks their spiritual growth and emotional healing.
Does it mean we will always get what we want, if we live as we should? Of course not. We know that logically, but sometimes we get a little off-track in our thinking. For example, conversely, we think because something bad happens, that means we have done something wrong. Maybe. If we are drinking too much, have an accident and are arrested, that is indeed our fault. If we spend more than we earn, and the bill collectors come calling, that's not a "spirit of debt;" that is our responsibility for poor stewardship. Somewhere along the line, we need to take responsibility and stop blaming "spirits" for people's behavior. As long as we blame "spirits" or other people, we won't be able to get to work and follow God's plan for the situation.
So there are indeed endless examples of maladies we bring on ourselves, and I won't go into any more of them here. Suffice it to say that because of the way God has set up the universe, there are consequences of unwise actions.
However, sometimes people fall ill, are in accidents, lose loved ones, homes etc., have a child go astray in spite of them doing their best - because they are in a fallen world. It's that simple. It is not always someone's fault, as Jesus said Himself to those who were eager to point a finger of blame regarding the blind man's condition. Unless we are talking about our own selves, let's get off the finger-pointing train and get on the "okay, what does God want us to do about this" train. Don't be part of the problem; be part of the solution.
What else can we learn from the Philadelphians? We can learn from them to keep our focus on God. We may be discouraged, but we need to remember that as that modern parable about the quilt teaches us, God sees not just the individual pieces (i.e. our troubles), but the entire beautiful pattern. We see things from the perspective of the situation we are in the middle of (pardon that grammar!), but God sees things from an eternal perspective. And we all need to ask Him to enable us to focus more on HIS perspective.
Comments or Questions?