Once upon a time, Christians did not meet in separate churches, but in the local Jewish meeting halls.
There was no opportunity to be separated by doctrines and teachings. The intent of the church at the time was Community building. But over time, the Body of Christ began to have many parts, separated by doctrinal teachings, leading us to what we have today.
History has messages all over from unknown ancestors warning us of future catastrophes. However, the Word of God is a living message that will outlive all of us. It speaks to us daily, warning, comforting, and encouraging us- especially the letters to the seven churches. Each of them significantly sends a message of relevance and urgency in diverse ways to every church. Outreach and evangelism are still the core of Church Planting, Building and, Growth for the propagation of Modern-day Gospel. I will like to point out a few things that I have put together for us to pick from one of the very effective churches in Bible History.
Have you ever wondered why Christ’s message to Philadelphia in the book of Revelation was very different from the ones he sent to the other churches?
The Church of Philadelphia was the sixth out of seven, to receive a message from Christ in the book of Revelation. Other than its name, the town was often called brotherly love, and according to history, this was because the King had a special kind of genuine love for his brother, Eumenes II. In Modern day, the town is called Alasehir. If the seven churches existed in our lives today, and I am to choose, I would certainly be a member of the church of Philadelphia, and I will tell you why.
1. They remained faithful amid strong opposition
Oh, this church had True love for Jesus, and He was so pleased that he expressly showed them his approval in his letter. Out of the seven churches, only the one in Philadelphia and that of Smryna received unqualified praise. Philadelphia stood between Rome and the eastern world and was known as “little Athens” because of the many idols. Despite the idolatry in the town, it remained faithful to Jesus. They faced persecution from the Jews; but despite the weakness and opposition, they chose to rely on God for solutions. They had a syndrome called the poverty of the flesh (what the bible called little power). They made their flesh weak enough to be strong in the Lord. That should apply to all of us; the Lord’s strength should be evident in our weaknesses. Fast forward to modern-day, COVID 19 could not have stopped the Church of Philadelphia; they were ready to move on ahead with Church technology. Anything to keep the church communication intact, able to manage their small congregation, and keep them focused on the gospel of Christ, would have been embraced. This church listened to Jesus alone, and that was their greatest achievement.
2. They Had a Formidable Prayer Wall
The Church thrived on Patience and endurance in the Place of Prayer. Little wonder why the Lord told them to hold on to what they had so that no one would take their crown. You do not earn a crown by wits alone; Patience, persistence and, hard work make a deserving winner. Some people win only at heart; while few others go on to bring that victory to the realm of the physical. The Philadelphia Church is one of those few. Today, it would have been one with a prayer culture. They would hold borderless prayer meetings, embracing non-church members, regardless of a lockdown or not. They would be one to build a stronger community in Christ during unacceptable situations. Nothing would have held a Philadelphia Church back in today’s world.
3. They Had an Unsatiable Urge for Outreach and Evangelism
Every church should be a means for God to lead people into a personal relationship with Christ. It is what the Church of Philadelphia represented in the scriptures and even now. They communally had a hunger for the propagation of the gospel, and they understood that they did not need to have a spiritual gift to evangelize. All you need is your faith and a willing heart to share the word. It was a church that worked consistently, and on multiple levels to present the gospel. It means that they did not overlook those who are non-church members. Their focus was on getting these people’s attention. Jesus said he had set an open door before them, which no one can shut. It was an express call for evangelism, and as always, they embraced it. Come to think of it, things are even better now with tools like mass texting and free push notifications, as everyone is online nowadays. The Church of Old had to go on several walks to convince people to follow Christ, but the church today, is in a world without walls- anyone, anywhere can be reached with Technology. Evangelism has become very easy. Why are we stalling?
4. The Church Must Have Been a Giving Church
“God loves a cheerful giver”, is a popular phrase in most of our churches today, and we have all embraced it. But in fact, God loves you, not because you give, but because you are one of his creations. The Spirit of selfless giving is from God himself. No man has, and will ever attain that height. Do you know what it means to sacrifice your only son for the sake of people who you do not have a personal relationship with? That feeling you just had right there is the reason no one is perfect, except God.
So if you have been giving in Church and you see yourself as a cheerful giver, consider the opportunity cost of your giving and think again. Most of us will not even give until we get to a church. For instance, the church had to run online services during the lockdown; how many of us can confidently say that we gave our offerings faithfully? It is neither about the Church Building nor our offerings; it is about our attitude towards giving. The Spirit of God within us freely gives, but our flesh holds us back. The Church of Philadelphia gave all they had to the gospel: not just their money, their strength, their time, and all.
I know for a fact that if we build our lives and the church on the premise of the Church of Philadelphia, the hope that Christ promised us will become our reality.
By Temitayo Badewole