Don’t be like Seven Dwarfs

By Leonard Lauriault

The seven churches of Revelation 1 to 3 could represent the types of good or poor doctrinal health faced by all congregations in every place and time.
Jesus’ message to each congregation includes a word of encouragement and either a rebuke or a challenge, showing that whatever we achieve in life, there’s always room for improvement (Philippians 2: 12, 13; 3: 7-16).
The Ephesian church (Revelation 2: 1-7) was doctrinally strong, testing every new teacher and not tolerating false doctrine. They worked hard and handled trials well. But they weren’t a loving congregation and had gotten “Grumpy.” This could interfere with evangelism, breaking Jesus’ command (John 13: 34, 35) and eventually causing their demise unless corrected.
Our first love (Mark 12: 28-31) is shown in brotherly love and complete obedience (John 14: 15). Practicing Christianity as it was done at first (2 Timothy 1: 13, 14) keeps us from forgetting what we’ve attained (2 Peter 1: 3-11; Acts 2: 38, 39) and can continue to receive (1 John 1: 5-9). No wonder we become Grumpy!
Christians at Smyrna (Revelation 2: 8-11) also had been faithful in persecution. But they were becoming “Bashful,” needing encouragement to face future persecutions. Encouragement comes from Jesus to all Christians who are diligently trying to maintain their first love (Hebrews 11: 6; Romans 8: 12-17; 1 Chronicles 28: 9).
Pergamum represents “intellectuals (or Doc’),” accepting any teaching that came along (Revelation 2: 12-17; Romans 1: 18-24). There’s only one way to God (John 14: 6; Acts 4: 12; Matthew 7: 13-21). Jesus’ double-edged sword should be used now to recognize false teaching and protect us from going astray (Hebrews 4: 12, 13; Ephesians 6: 10-15). Otherwise it will be used against us when Jesus returns (John 12: 47, 48).
Some attending the church at Thyatira thought sin was no big deal allowing others to continue sinning and eventually participating themselves (Revelation 2: 18-29; Romans 1: 28-32). Sin isn’t to be “Sneezed” at so God disciplines us for our own good (Hebrews 12: 1-11; 3: 6-13; 6: 4-8). Still, it’s our choice to remain in God’s family (John 10: 27, 28; 1 Timothy 4: 1).
The church at Sardis had everyone fooled, except God (Revelation 3: 1-6). They were “Sleepy” and in danger because they hadn’t obeyed him, preparing for Jesus’ return (Matthew 25: 1-13; 22: 1-14). If you believe God, you’ll put on the appropriate clean clothes before it’s too late (Revelation 22: 12-16, 20; Galatians 3: 26, 27; Romans 13: 14).
The Philadelphians (Revelation 3: 7-13) “Happily” demonstrated brotherly love, faithfulness in persecution, and obedience to Jesus’ other commands. Jesus would protect them from future persecution so they wouldn’t lose their reward, if they’d stand firm (1 Corinthians 9: 24-27). Jesus also opened a door to them, likely as another opportunity to serve him giving them even greater joy through personal and congregational growth (1 Corinthians 16: 8, 9; Acts 14: 26, 27; Ephesians 5: 15-20; Colossians 4: 2-6).
The Laodicean Christians were just plain “Dopey” (Revelation 3: 14-22; pardon the political incorrectitude). They‘d stagnated, leaving a bad taste in God’s mouth and becoming nearly so darkened in their thinking they didn’t see the pitfall ahead (Ephesians 4: 17-24; Luke 6: 39). Like Sardis, the Laodiceans hadn’t completely obeyed God, giving him all they had, although insufficient, to receive the riches they couldn’t afford to be without (Romans 12: 1, 2; Ephesians 1: 13, 14). They hadn’t clothed themselves with Christ, becoming covered with his blood to receive righteousness from God (Hebrews 9: 14; Romans 4: 7; 3: 22), and see the light of his word (1 Corinthians 2: 12-16). Revelation 3: 20 often is used to invite others to become Christians. The Bible was written to Christians rather than non-Christians (2 Timothy 3: 16, 17) and the context around Revelation 3: 20 is specifically to Christians in danger of losing their salvation by grieving Jesus‘ Spirit (see Revelation 3: 21, 22; Ephesians 4: 30).
Jesus’ church is pure (Ephesians 5: 25-27), but often its members are blemished. In the fairy tale, Snow White made the Dwarfs wash up before they could enjoy dinner. Even then, when the Prince came to take Snow White as his bride (Revelation 21: 2, 9-11; 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18), the Seven Dwarfs were left behind, possibly because they hadn’t properly dressed for the wedding banquet (Revelation 19: 6-9).
We all can learn from Jesus’ words to the seven churches. Christians must be faithful unto death, keeping all of Jesus’ commands (Matthew 28: 18-20), overcoming temptation (1 Corinthians 10: 13), and getting forgiveness when we do sin. Otherwise, like the Seven Dwarfs, we’ll be unprepared and be left behind.

Leonard Lauriault is a member of the Church of Christ in Logan. Contact him at 461-4421.