To those suffering and going through hardships, Jesus says, ‘Do not fear.’ But on what ground can this statement actually stand if it is to help us? How can it be a source of real strength and encouragement rather than being a bit of meaningless good advice?
In this sermon we examine Christ’s message to the suffering Christians in the church of Smyrna and the interpretative framework that he gives to those who are being persecuted.
In our contemporary setting, we live among a predominantly secular worldview, the assumption that there is no higher power, that this life is all there is, and our life’s purpose is simply to take what we can from our time on earth and pass something on to the next generation if possible. However this worldview cannot provide a satisfactory answer to the brute fact of human suffering.
However Jesus speaks to the church to give them an alternate view of reality – a worldview that is constructed around the Christian gospel – that Christ himself suffered and died on a cross and rose to life on the third day. A Christian worldview with the gospel at the centre flows out to meet every facet of human knowledge and experience, including human suffering. We see in this gospel-centred framework deep resources available in our suffering as well as the hope of a future free of suffering and sadness.
Main passage: Revelation 2:8-11