Last week I asked the question, “what is Christ looking for in His church?” The answers to that question came from the items (attitudes and actions) that Jesus commends or calls for in the seven churches of Asia (Revelation 2-3). This article is asking the opposite question, about what Christ is not looking for in His church (what does Jesus not want among His people). The answers will be primarily based on Revelation 2-3.
Notice that Jesus does not praise them for things like fundraising skills; the size of the congregation; organizational skills; building and property holdings; having great social events; specialized ministries for all age groups; being “involved” in their communities; etc. Some or all of these things can be appropriate (even necessary), but these are not the things that Jesus is looking for in His church. These types of things are not mentioned in Revelation 2-3 and they are not mentioned in any of the New Testament documents sent to congregations of God ‘s people.
As we read the letters to the seven churches of Asia, we also find several things that Jesus does not want in His church. What causes Jesus to rebuke and threaten to judge or remove His presence from among His people?
The church at Ephesus: leaving their first love (Rev. 2:4).
The church at Pergamum: tolerating false teaching, idolatry, unlawful silence, and immorality (Rev. 2:14-15).
The church at Thyatira: tolerating false teaching, idolatry, immorality, and lack of church discipline (Rev. 2:20-23).
The church at Sardis: reputation without reality and incomplete works (Rev. 3:1-2).
The church at Laodicea: spiritually lukewarm and lost spiritual values (Rev. 3:16-17).
These letters call for the people of God to see ourselves based on the things that are important to Jesus and not be deceived into evaluating ourselves based on cultural criteria. These letters also call for the saints to resist the constant pull to accommodate to or assimilate into the culture. We are recreated in Christ to be the counter-cultural people of God.
(a special thank you goes to Dr. Rick Oster for teaching me to ask these kinds of questions of the biblical text)