Is Your Congregation Rich or Poor?

Here is what Christ said to two of his churches in Revelation 2 and 3:

“I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich!”
– Revelation 2:9 to the church in Smyrna

“You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich;”
– Revelation 3:17-18 to the church in Laodicea

This question has far more to do with character than it does with dollars and cents. Out of my own curiosity I did a google map search for Laodicea and actually found a couple of hits. I got half a dozen results. Only one street name came up and a few citations from Revelation 3 were in some of the business notes. But can you believe there were two baptist churches named Laodicea? One is in Forsythe, GA and the other in Hanceville, AL which is less than an hour drive from where my family is from. Not too many people name things after the last of the seven churches in the book of Revelation.

One thing that stands out to me when you compare Smyrna and Laodicea is that God is the one who determines if our congregations are rich. He told the church in Smyrna of their great wealth, while the church in Laodicea did their own boasting and was wrong. He is not interested in whether or not we have great amounts of dollar bills to declare ourselves wealthy (which is what Laodicea did).  God is the one who declares us wealthy or poor based on the richness of our hearts and not what is in our bank accounts. Many have noted the great wealth of both of these cities but Laodicea in particular was known for its great banking industry. They were wealthy by the standards of the world but not by God’s standards.

Our churches may have great wealth or have members who have a great wealth in a worldly sense. But it is important for us to realize that does not make us wealthy in the eyes of God. So let me ask it again, “Is your congregation rich or poor?”

0 Responses to Is Your Congregation Rich or Poor?

  1. Hank says:

    Good article Matt. Wouldn’t it be cool to get a letter like those churches did? To get an actual review? As far as whether ones church is rich or poor, I guess the first step would be to ask our individual selves that same question? As the whole is nothing more than the sum of it’s parts.

    Have you ever made or seen a list of all the specific commendations and condemnations the Lord had for the seven churches? To see at a glance what pleases (and displeases God)? I think that would be a good study.

    I appreciate you bro.

  2. K. Rex Butts says:

    Good question.

    Last year it was suggested to that I preach a series to the church on the seven churches of Asia Minor from Revelation. My initial thought was “does the church really want to hear the actual message Jesus had for the seven churches?” Certainly we would enjoy hearing PART of the message but the other part may not be something we want to hear.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

    • mattdabbs says:

      We talked about this in our men’s class last night…the good things he might say as well as the not so good. It was a very healthy discussion that I wish we would have more often.

  3. K. Rex Butts says:

    BTW, I enjoyed reading your essay on Romans 12 in the latest issue of New Wineskins. I love how you reminded us that it is God at work in us, transforming us…and praise be to God that he does.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  4. Kevin Walker says:

    I certainly don’t think it’s a sin to have, or to be rich. But, there seems to be a purity in being poor (in the world’s standards). It seems that the church has been most powerful, not when it was influencial because of worldly wealth and popularity, but when it was dirt poor and had nothing to offer but the power of the Spirit indwelling those who believe expressed in love for God and neighbor.

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