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Holding on to christ

“I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name… I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.”

We live in anxious times. Granted, we’re not the first society to face hardships as the turmoil of history is undeniable. But there’s also no denying the worry that consumes our culture. It feels like we’re always moving from one crisis to another.

In times of uncertainty like this, we naturally cling to what we find security in. Some will refuse to let go of their political allegiance as the 2020 election comes closer. Some will be consumed by ensuring financial security in light of the stock market’s recent tumble. And some will live gripped in fear of the coronavirus—no matter their actual risk of infection.

 In the midst of all of this, the Church must cling to Christ and to Christ alone. That doesn’t mean voting, wise financial decisions, and the advice of doctors no longer matter. They do matter. Holding onto Christ means that as we do those things, Christ is our anchor. We look to Him because Christians are not people of despair, but people of hope.

As we seek to do this, the church in Philadelphia encourages us in that mission. Jesus’ address to the church in Revelation 3:7–13 helps us see what it means to be a faithful church that clings to Christ and His Word, and it shows us what happens when we do so.

 

Faithfulness Over Fame

Like we’ve talked about before, one thing that is particularly tempting for churches to hold on to is its influence. We believe that with a greater platform or a bigger congregation, we can make more of a difference for Christ. The underlying danger in that line of reasoning is not only that it relies on our power instead of Christ’s, but it can also lead to prioritizing fame over faithfulness. The church in Philadelphia helps serve as a counterexample to that draw.

“I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name… I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.”

If this church existed today, they wouldn’t be considered culturally significant. It says in these verses, they were of “little power.” Yet of the seven churches addressed by Jesus here in Revelation 2 and 3, only the churches of Philadelphia and Smyrna received no correction. And why was this church in particular commended by Jesus? Not because they were big or influential, but because they kept the Word of God, they wouldn’t deny Christ’s name, and they held fast to what they had been given. They weren’t so focused on reaching for more that they let go of what was essential. Culture will change and new trends will try to tell us what we should hold on to, but we must not waiver. If we are faithful like the church in Philadelphia, we too must hold fast to Christ and His Word.

 

How Revelation Should be Studied

But holding on to Christ isn’t meant to be some white-knuckled, terrifying, fruitless endeavor. There is joy to be had and rewards to look forward to in holding on to Christ and this passage discusses a few of them. However, in order to not spread this post too thin, we’re going to focus on just one reward: being held by God.

 “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.”

This verse overflows with hope. First, we find hope in God establishing us as pillars of truth. In this image, pillars convey strength, stability and steadiness. So, we need not fear being blown about by the winds of change because we’re not holding on to the things of this world. By holding fast to Christ, we will be established as pillars of truth that God will use to proclaim His Word and build His Church.

Then again, verse 12 assures us that God will not let us go by revealing that we will have the name of God, of the new Jerusalem, and Jesus’ new name written on us. And don’t picture God writing on us with a pen or permanent maker. It’s not a temporary tattoo that will fade with a few showers. Instead, God will engrave His name upon us. This shows that we don’t belong to Satan, this world, or even ourselves. We belong to God, and nothing can take us away from Him!

Faithfulness may feel boring or overrated, but it’s not. In fact, faithfully holding to Christ is all that can sustain us in this world. More trials will come, so let’s choose now to hold on to the right thing and in turn be safely held by the right One.

 

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