A Little Strength

This posting is Part 2 of the posting dealing with the 7 churches mentioned in Revelation chapters 2 and 3.  If you have not read that post, you might want to take a break and go take a look then come back, as this is a continuation of a specific thought started there…

One of the attributes that Christ points out in his letter to the church of Philadelphia is that they ‘have a little strength.’  Of course, we know that the church of Philadelphia, among other things, represents the ‘true’ church at the end of the age.  In other words, our time.

Of course, it is no surprise to anyone the church of today seems to have less power than those of bygone times.  By ‘less power’ I’m referring to the miracles, the manifestation of God’s power, the healings, deliverances, and the list goes on.  To be sure these things are still present today, and haven’t completely left us, but there does seem to be a bit of a slow down.

Many people have come up with quite a few suggestions as to why this is happening.  Here’s just a few:

  1. Lack of interest – or better said, there are more distractions today
  2. Lack of faith – with modern science and technology has come more of reliance on these things, rather than on God.  Our fore-fathers did not have any alternatives.  If God did not heal them, provide for them, and perform miracles they would not have survived.
  3. Lack of interest in spiritual things – while there is an increase in interest in the occult, witchcraft, and the ‘dark’ sciences, there is a diminishing interest in the true things of God.
  4. Busy, busy, busy – I can attest to this one, that even at the age of 61 I’m busier now than I was at the age of 25.  There are many things that demand my attention.  Most of the time I’m exhausted.
  5. No prayer or study of the Word – this kind of goes with the other items listed above.

We might attribute the passage ‘has a little strength’ to one or more of these things, and many have.  But, there is a problem.  The ‘has a little strength’ is not listed as a short-coming, but as a strength Christ recognized in the church of Philadelphia.  In other words, it’s not the glass half-empty and getting less, it is the glass half-full and gaining strength.

This raises an interesting question – why would Christ compliment or reward a church that only had ‘a little strength’?

Which brings us to the focus of this posting.  When we see the phrase ‘a little strength’ we most normally think of something operating below where it should.  It is somehow deficient, flawed, less than successful.  But, that is not how Christ portrays the Philadelphia church.  In fact, as previously mentioned, the Philadelphia church, along with the Smyrna church are the only 2 churches of the 7 Christ has no condemnation for.

The Philadelphia church is not flawed, it is challenged.  It has a little strength because it is facing situations never before faced by God’s people.  Sure, there have been more desperate times, times of war, times of upheaval, times of unrest.  But, never before have we seen as many people “gospel hardened” as we have in our day and time.  Never in the church’s two thousand year history have their been more Bibles, more radio stations, more TV stations, more satellite and cable stations, spreading the gospel far and wide.  Gospel hardened refers to the state of being where people hear the word, but it does not penetrate their hardened heart.  This does not reflect a powerlessness of the Word, but rather an attitude on the part of the receiver.  The gospel and Word of God is still as powerful as it ever was, but people’s attitudes have hardened towards its message.

Christ has become ‘too familiar’.  Ever notice that when Jesus went back to His hometown, He could perform not many miracles there because everyone knew who He was and where He came from.  They knew His family, his brothers, and His upbringing.  Therefore, it was harder for them to believe He was the Christ.

Somewhat the same thing is happening today.  People have heard the message, and heard the message, and heard the message, to the point they can no longer hear it or take it in.  Thus, the church of Philadelphia has ‘a little strength’.

Because the Philadelphia church is not strong, it’s a good thing He has set before it an open door that cannot be shut.

Christ closes his letter to Philadelphia with the warning, “Let no man take your crown.”  The image is one of the church, with what strength it has, continuing to use God’s open door to spread the gospel, and to hold onto the crown that God has given it.

One Response to “A Little Strength”

  1. Barbara McGuire Says:

    Boy, this could not have been said any better and it’s dead on! I have nothing to add to this except fantastic blog! And so true of today…… Blessings!

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