Last week I had travelled to Shimla a city in the Himalayas. I went expecting to be awed by the majesty and grandeur of the mountains. I’ve come back overwhelmed instead by the tenderness and care with which God has created the most exquisite miniature flowers.
Tiny flowers, less than a millimetre in size, yet perfectly crafted, with amazing detail in design.
These tiny flowers growing in crevices, pushing their way through the rocks, made me think of Jesus’ letter to the church at Philadelphia. The church of little strength/power.
There were some churches that Jesus commended for their works, love, faithfulness, patience, endurance, and invariably there was the qualifying ‘BUT’. The church at Philadelphia did not get any glowing commendations, however, there was no sharp ‘BUT I…’ to prick their bubble either.
Jesus instead tenderly acknowledges their little strength, and shows them just how strongly He was with them to support them by setting an open door before them.
Pro 16:7 says, “ When a man’s ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” We see Jesus promising them in this letter that He would deal with those who were opposing them.
So what was so special about this church? All that this church seems to have done is kept Jesus’ word and not denied His Name.
Kept His word. Carefully attended to what Jesus had to say and obeyed it. Sounds like they were doing what Jesus told His disciples at the Last Supper. ‘If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love.’ Simple. Nothing complicated about that.
The church at Philadelphia was merely abiding in His love. A church with little strength, mustard-seed sized faith, yet delighting the heart of Jesus for they had caught hold of His gospel and were living it out.
They obviously were being persecuted, but in those difficult and harsh circumstances, they endured, deeply rooted and built up in the love of Christ. Perfect love casts out fear. Made perfect in the love of Christ, they could not nor would not deny the person, name, character or office of Jesus, the Anointed One.
That’s all they had to do. Jesus told them that all they would have to do is ‘hold on to what they had.’ They had understood that it was not about them going out and doing great things for Jesus, but it was about them carefully attending to, guarding and obeying His word, depending on Him, holding fast to Him. In other words, just being who they were created to be, and He was doing the great things through them.
They recognised that God was their Creator, they were God’s workmanship, it was He who was working out their salvation in them and through them. They just had to trust, lean, listen and obey. By just doing that, they were being transformed from glory to glory. Jesus tells them that at the end of the road, if they continued in this way, they would be ‘pillars in the Temple of God’.
What a transformation! From ‘little strength’ to being a ‘pillar’…
We’ve made being a disciple of Christ so complicated, when all the while it is a simple invitation to abide in His love, and listen and obey Him, and His life working in us will accomplish the rest.
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord,
so walk in him,
rooted and built up in him and established in the faith…”
Col 2:6-7 ESV
“But He said to me,
“My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses,
so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
For the sake of Christ, then,
I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.
For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2Co 12:9-10 ESV
*** Each of these flowers is less than a mm in size. One could easily fit several on a thumbnail.