…And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man….
— Revelation 1:12,13
We live in a day and hour when some people act as if they are embarrassed to be affiliated with the Church. Perhaps something happened at their church that disappointed them with that local body and its leadership. But regardless of the reason, they have distanced themselves from the Church.
But I want to tell you that even though the Church as a whole has many imperfections, Jesus is not ashamed of His Church!
We may be tempted to feel dismayed about the carnality that sometimes seem so pervasive in the contemporary Church, but it’s important for us to remember that Jesus paid the highest price of all for the Church, He loves His people, and He still remains in the midst of them. In fact, when the apostle John recorded the vision He had in the book of Revelation, he wrote that He saw Jesus standing right in the midst of the seven candlesticks, which were symbolic of the Church. This means Christ was standing right in the midst of the Church when John saw Him in this vision.
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Revelation 1:12,13 says, “…And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man.…”
The word “midst” is the Greek word mesos, which can be translated as in the midst, in the middle, or in the center. Thus, this word portrays Jesus standing right in the very center of the Church. The seven churches in the book of Revelation were most likely the leading congregations of Asia. Yet despite their prominent status, these local churches had problems — some of which were of a very serious nature. Nevertheless, Jesus didn’t distance Himself from these churches. Regardless of their imperfections and problems, He stood right in the very midst of them.
This close proximity infers that Jesus is not ashamed of His Church, even though it is comprised of flawed human beings. In fact, having purchased their redemption through His death and resurrection, Jesus is delighted to abide in the midst of His blood-bought people!
In the vision, John saw Jesus standing like a Great Overseer in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, His eyes focused on them. This explains Jesus’ intimate knowledge about each of these seven congregations and the reason He would later say to each of them, “I know thy works” (see Revelation 2:2; 2:9; 2:13; 2:19; 3:1; 3:8; 3:15).
This word “know” that appears in all these verses is the Greek word oida. It comes from a Greek root that means to see. Thus, the word oida in these scriptures describes what Jesus had seen personally, not what He had obtained from an outside source. This was knowledge based on personal observation. By standing in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks — or in the midst of those seven churches — Jesus was in a position to see everything that happened in those churches, both good and bad.
This should be taken as both an encouragement and a warning to the Church of every age. As the Head of the Church, Jesus stands in the midst of His people, lovingly overseeing everything that transpires, both positive and negative. He knows from personal observation every victory won, every misstep taken, every challenge faced, and every demonic attack withstood.
- Regarding the congregation in Ephesus, Jesus could see their labor, patience, and intolerance for false doctrine — but He could also see that they had lost their first love.
- Regarding the congregation in Smyrna, Jesus could see their tribulation and poverty — but He could also see that they were struggling with a fear of future calamity.
- Regarding the congregation in Pergamum, Jesus could see the demonic activity that confronted believers on a daily basis, as well as the price many of them were paying to remain firm in the face of opposition. But He could also see that the damnable doctrine of the Nicolaitans was trying to influence the church and lead its people astray.
- Regarding the congregation in Thyatira, Jesus could see that they were hard-working; that they were dedicated to works of charity and to serving people in need; and that they demonstrated patience and excellence in whatever they undertook to do for the Lord. But He could also see that a woman named Jezebel was seducing God’s people with damnable doctrines that endorsed loose living and ungodly morals.
- Regarding the congregation in Sardis, Jesus could see that they had enjoyed a strong beginning in their faith. But He could also see that their steadfastness was slipping and that they were in danger of drying up spiritually and becoming completely ineffectual.
- Regarding the congregation in Philadelphia, Jesus could see that they had rare opportunities and open doors to declare the Gospel. But He could also see that they needed to hold fast during challenging times.
- Regarding the congregation in Laodicea, Jesus could see nothing positive. He saw that they were neither hot nor cold, rebuked them for their self-sufficiency, and pleaded with them to open the door and allow Him back inside their church once more.
In every case I just noted, the word “see” in the corresponding verses is the Greek word oida — which is used seven times to affirm that Christ knew all of this by His personal observation of these local churches. Christ was so close — so centered on these congregations — that all of these conditions were visible to His eyes. But notice this: The blemishes did not turn Jesus away. He still stood in the midst of the Church, for He loved it enough to pay for it with His own blood.
Likewise, Jesus stands in the midst of His people today, overseeing all the activities that transpire among them. He sees both the good and the bad. He sees their love, faith, patience, and commitment. He also sees the actions that are out of line with His character and His plan for the Church. And as has been true throughout the centuries, if His people will listen, they will still hear the voice of Jesus, urging them to hear what He is saying to His Church and to repent wherever repentance is needed.
But Christ is not ashamed of His Church — He is standing right in the very middle of it! In spite of its imperfections, Christ loves His Church!
If you know those who are embarrassed of the Church (and maybe that describes you), help them remember — or remind yourself — that Christ in all His holiness and perfection is not ashamed. Rather, He draws near to oversee the Church, to pray for it, and to bring the correction that it needs. Jesus has not abandoned His Church, and He never will !|
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I thank You for reminding me of Your great love for the Church in spite of all of its present blemishes, flaws, and imperfections. Forgive me — and forgive others — when we have been judgmental of Your precious Church and have been ashamed or embarrassed of it. We have actually been judgmental of ourselves because we are Your Body, the Church, members one of another. You are right in the midst of the Church; therefore, I refuse to criticize what You have given Your life for and invested Yourself in so completely. I thank You for bringing correction and encouragement to my heart today. I repent for any judgmental attitude about your Church or its leadership, and I receive Your forgiveness. Help me keep a right heart attitude.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I boldly confess that I love the Church of Jesus Christ, and I am thankful to be a member of it. I regret holding a critical attitude, and I repent of it right now. I make the decision to change the way I see the Church and how I speak about the Church. Most of all, I make the decision to pray for the Church. Christ loves the Church as His own Body, therefore, I refuse to despise Christ Himself by ill-esteeming His own Body — of which I, too, am a part! Since Christ is in the midst of the Church, I set my affection and devotion in the midst of the Church. I acknowledge this, I accept it, and I conform my beliefs and my actions to this declaration of faith. With the help of God’s Spirit working in my heart and mind, I will maintain a good, positive, faith-filled attitude toward the Church and its leadership, especially when I see imperfections that seem glaringly obvious to me. Who am I to judge another man’s servant? Before his own master he rises or falls, but God is able to make him stand. My responsibility is to pray so that I am not judged in the same critical way.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Do you know anyone who got “turned off” by the Church, became critical of it, and, as a result, stopped going to church altogether? Who is that person? What can you do to woo that individual into fellowship with the saints again?
- Have you ever realized that as long as human beings are members of the Church — including you and me — it will be flawed? If you think about it, it’s a great work of grace that Jesus’ blood washed us and cleansed us and that He placed us inside His Church. He accepted us in the Beloved and made us a part of His Body. Isn’t that a miracle for us to ponder?
- If you’ve been negative about the Church and have spoken about it negatively to others, did you ever think about the ramifications that your negative words could have on others — how your remarks could also make them negative about the Church? If you’ve participated in such negative conversations, what should you do now to make it right?