Be faithful unto death
Smyrna can be here, right where you are. Affliction and your poverty can be your lot, even though you are rich. I may be poor when I assume that my material goods can provide immunity from life’s trouble, when I forget that life does not consist in the abundance of one’s possessions, when I forget that I brought nothing into this world and can take nothing away, not even the mess that I might have made, not even the gains that accrued for my sake. Nothing temporary or permanent is forever mine. All I should claim is the love of God that does not end.
I become poorer when I forget that learning was meant to be shared so that if I’m the only one to know, then knowing serves no good purpose. I become poorer when I think that I’m better when in reality I have become worse for simply putting my confidence in only me, rather than in us together.
I become poorer when I pretend that I am who I am not, like “those who say that they are Jews but are a synagogue of Satan” because I have not checked my source, because I will not see my error. When I insist on faking it and burying the true who I am, I remain unfree and I suffer for it. But if I suffer like Smyrna for the testing of my faith, then help me Lord to triumph. I want to be a conqueror.
I believe in your guarantee of life to those who are faithful unto death, a crown of life, you say. Yes, in this life, we can die so often and still live on. We are being killed when we when we give up hope but can celebrate life when we challenge its killers and stand up for right. There are many who have made a positive difference by refusing to be silenced in the face of injustice; and even if they are killed, their contributions live on; and other lives are raised to better levels.
We pass for dead when we will not live. The killing demigods disrespect us when we choose to be pawns in the hands of the powerful. Whenever I choose to deny the God of Life, the Lord has a right to disown me and leave me to face the shame that kills now and for eternity.
Stand up, stand up for Jesus as a soldier of the cross.
This means fighting to be faithful and growing gain from loss.
Fear not the power of evil, it lasts for but a while
Resist the path of easiness and choose God’s crown of life.
Crown me with life, O Lord I pray and deliver me even now, and from defeat of the second death. Amen.