“Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Glory and a Game Plan
It happens in every high school-centered sports film. The coach has a vision; he knows the game and the opponent inside and out. And as a result, he has big words for his team. He tells them how to get to where they’re all wanting to go: the ending buzzer victory. His players, on the other hand, are getting a little too big for their britches. They find themselves unable to follow through with the game plan they’d all agreed upon back in the locker room. New whispers arise claiming a better plan of attack. They only have one shot, and the glory of winning—or of obeying their own ego—is at stake. Whose wisdom will win out in the end?
But you and I know how it goes. Regardless of the numbers on the scoreboard, it’s better to listen to the coach. Disobey him, and we will all have laps to run tomorrow afternoon at practice.
Held Within His Promise
In Revelation 2’s letter to the church in Pergamum, it appears to us that they weren’t just a hopeless ragtag team of athletes. (Even if there were some glaring blind spots to their obedience!) The Lord was not ashamed to call them His people. And it was their willingness to hold on to His name that marked them as true believers. They did not deny their faith in Him, even in the face of severe persecution. But even with this commendation, He had charged them with heeding to the whispers and shouts of opposing false teachings rather than clinging solely to His Word of truth.
But the good news for them is the same good news for our church today: we were made to hear and hold fast to Him, never left to our own devices. His gospel’s promise of victory didn’t run out on them, and it won’t run out on us, either. Held within the promise of this good news, the Lord urges them—and us—to repentance rather than to our own foolish failure. Even after so many of them had gone astray, He still promises to fight against their lies with His truth. And the order they received? It wasn’t complex, though it did prove to be difficult for them: Listen and find your victory in Me, the Coach who created the game and knows how it’s played.
To Hear and Hold Fast
As we seek to follow Jesus today and everyday, we realize that we’re not participating in a scrimmage game where our plays and passes only count in theory; this is no dress rehearsal. We find ourselves in real situations and circumstances where we find out what we’re made of and what (or whom) it is we most value.
And in the letter to the church in Pergamum, the Lord’s reminder was one that we, too, will find applicable: just listen to the Spirit. Find your victory here in Jesus. Though you’ll struggle to always hear His voice and to obey, we can’t find the truth within ourselves to know what’s next—it’s the Spirit who speaks and guides. And it’s us as His created beings who were made to hear and hold fast.
Ponder this game plan analogy for a moment. What in your life needs to be redirected back to the truth? Is it a particular sin? Is it a weighty burden you just can’t seem to let go of? Take it to Him. Read His Word and listen for His truth. If you seek His will above your own, He will be found.