Is it a church? A gym? A bank? A school? Anymore, you can hardly tell a church building from any other structure—sometimes you read the sign and you still aren’t sure. Now, I am not so concerned about what shape a church building has, that is non-eternal and of little importance. What does bother me, however, is that the true church, which is people not a building, is hard to distinguish from society as well. Christians blend in so well now, one wonders how they are different, other than having a different view of eternity from those who do not know God.
This was the problem in Smyrna of people pretending to be something they were not. Jesus called them the “church of Satan.” They were not cutting off pigeon heads or holding séances, they were just trying to blend in to the world around them. These Christians wanted to blend in with the Jewish people around them so they could keep their jobs in the trade unions. Many Christians compromise their beliefs today so they can get promoted in the workplace or be accepted by friends.
This is a test
Jesus told the church in Smyrna, “You will be tested ten days.” As with many other concepts in this Revelation of Jesus Christ, this appears to draw from the writings of the prophet Daniel. When Daniel and his three friends landed in Babylon, they were put into a prep school to be government officials and advisors. With all the other students, they sat down to a meal of meat offered to idols and an alcoholic beverage. These young people who loved God pushed back the plate and the cup. They refused to share in what the world valued.
Daniel approached their manager and told him they could not eat these things. “But, this is expert approved,” their manager told them, and, “You have to, because everybody is doing it.” Their lives were in danger because the king of Babylon could kill them for rejecting his plan. Daniel and his friends worked out a deal where they could go ten days without eating the popular food the worldly culture was pushing on them. Instead they ate vegetables.
After ten days, they looked better and were smarter than the other young men in their school. God blessed them, not just because they ate their vegetables, but because they refused to accept the world’s norms. Jesus said to the church, “You will be tested for ten days.” Until He returns, you will be tested. Will you cave in and become like the world? Or will you stay strong and let the world see Jesus in you?”
Everything we do—spending money, wearing clothes, hanging with friends—must be for the purpose of giving God glory. A child of God does not wear the world’s immodest clothing, the world’s hairstyle, the world’s attitude. If people cannot tell if a church is a church anymore, can they tell that you are a child of God?