“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last…….What you see write in a book and send to the seven churches…….”  Revelation 1:11

“The mystery of seven stars….and the seven golden lampstands….the seven stars are the seven angels of the seven churches and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.”  Revelation 1:20

So let’s set the scene here.  There is a follower of Christ named John (there is some discussion over whether or not this was the Apostle John or not) who has been exiled to an island named Patmos for his belief and preaching of Jesus Christ.  At this point, among so many countless things Jesus Christ has accomplished, He has taught about His Father and His Father’s Kingdom.  He has willing died for us becoming the perfect sacrifice for our redemption.  He has risen from the dead and in all power, has asked for the Holy Spirit to be sent to us so that those who believe and are baptized may receive Him.  There has been time for Christ’s apostles to spread out and begin churches.  Now Christ wants to reveal to His people, that which is to come.

Notice where, very early on, Christ’s emphasis lies.  He makes sure that John knows who exactly it is who is giving him, His revelation.  Second, Christ wants to make sure that John sends this information out….to the churches.  In fact when John first sees Jesus Christ, He is standing in and amongst the lampstands.  Notice also that, besides a lampstand, each church has an angel.

Jesus Christ wants to send a message to all the churches, yet each church has a different part.  Here are couple things that seem important to me.  First, while there are seven churches based on seven different physical locations; they are all Christ’s.  Second, even at this time, even as short a period of time as it has been since Christ walked the earth, the evils of man had infected many of these churches.  These were not perfect places of worship.

So what is Jesus Christ to do?  He could have pronounced the church a failed institution and decided some other form of institution is necessary.  Christ could have warned all of his believers to flee from churches or any institution similar to them.  Neither of these things does Christ do.  No, it is abundantly clear that Christ cares for, Christ loves these churches, even with their imperfections.  Certainly Christ rebukes the churches, in some cases quite harshly.  Yet even then in most cases, He is able to find something redeeming about the church and offers the churches hope.  Yes, it seems very clear that Jesus Christ sees great importance in the churches and the need that they repent of their waywardness and come into the glory for which they were intended.

Why is this so important?  This is vital, because churches are under such devastating attacks both from the outside secular world as well as within their own ranks.  It is true that there have been churches that have committed great evil against the world and even their own members.  It is true that some churches, far from being the welcoming beacons of light; have spread a message of exclusiveness and hatred.  I have even heard from within churches themselves, doubts about the relevance and necessity of churches in the 21st century world.

Where are we to turn?  Are we to strike out on our own?  Let’s return to Jesus and see what He has to say.  Remember, Jesus preached that a house divided can not stand.  While, in the context of the discussion, He was discussing Satan, He did not say Satan’s divided house can not stand.  No, it is clear He admonition was for all.  The church is a place where we come together.  The church is the place where we partake of fellowship in some of the most sacred acts that Christ taught about; The Lord’s Supper and The baptism of the Holy Spirit.  Churches have the mission of being a place were we come to a sanctuary of love, healing, joy, praise and worship.

The enemy would love to see us break up and try it on our own.  The enemy would love to see those in pain, those tired, those physically and spiritually hungry, those unloved and persecuted have no where to turn.  The enemy would love each believer left alone to struggle with interpreting the Word of God on their own.

Dear Sisters and Brothers; church matters.  Yes, I confess there are divisions.  Yes it is true that we have many of the same struggles that Jesus Christ laid out in the book of Revelation to the early seven churches.  Yet that is no reason to give up and try to go it alone.  Diligently seek a church that preaches Jesus Christ, the Son of God and our Savior.  If you are in such a church be open and loving to those who enter your doors.  In a world obsessed with the latest and greatest, hold fast to the Rock of Christ.  Should your church stumble; love it, support it, help it.  Should one church become so corrupted that it no longer preaches the true gospel of Christ, then leave it, but find another church.  They are definitely out there.

Let us not relegate an institution that Jesus Christ finds so important to a relic of the past.  Christ knows that the church is not for Him and His need, it is for us.  Let us, abiding in Christ, be worthy of our lampstand.  And may the light, His Light, shine forth from our lamp, the church, as a beacon of love, peace and light, to a world ever growing darker.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we pray a prayer of thanksgiving that Your plan has in it our ability to gather in Your Church.  We pray that, although there be many buildings in many different locations, that we would worship You as one.  Let the Glory of the Groom, Jesus Christ, fill the bride, the church, with love, mercy and thanksgiving.  Forgive us when we try to fashion the church in our image instead of Yours.  That the church may be an avenue for Your Will to be carried out on this earth.  In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen