Christians in developed countries today think little about being persecuted for their faith, but there are churches in the world where oppression is a daily reality. Such was the case for the ancient church at Smyrna. Refusing to worship pagan gods or the Roman emperors, they experienced pressure, poverty, and persecution (verse 9).
Two of the seven churches received no rebuke from Christ, and Smyrna was one of them. Surrounded by one of the ancient world’s most beautiful cities, this congregation experienced the ugliness of oppression. Christ’s words to that church can prepare all believers for what might come.
Be Fearless — “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer” (verse 10). Because Christ is Lord over all of life’s circumstances, we have nothing to fear. Paul wrote that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:35-39). Fear is a natural human response, but we live supernatural lives through the power of Christ in us.
Be Faithful — “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (verse 10). Given the intensity of the persecution in Smyrna, I believe Christ was saying, “Yes, you may lose your life for My sake, but be faithful until the end.”
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