Read Revelation 2:8-11
8 Write this letter to the angel of the church in Smyrna. This is the message from the one who is the First and the Last,who was dead but is now alive:
9 “I know about your suffering and your poverty-but you are rich! I know the blasphemy of those opposing you. They say they are Jews,but they are not,because their synagogue belongs to Satan. 10 Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The devil will throw some of you into prison to test you. You will suffer for ten days. But if you remain faithful even when facing death,I will give you the crown of life.
11 “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. Whoever is victorious will not be harmed by the second death. (NLT)
Appearances can be deceiving. A small group of simply dressed Christians meeting in a draughty building singing out of tune long forgotten songs with minimal accompaniment. Are they a pathetic remnant,left behind by larger and more dynamic gatherings? Or do they have something that those mega-churches lack?
Or to take a more obvious case,a dishevelled Jewish ‘criminal’ hanging on a cross one Friday. A failed martyr? Or the Saviour of the world going about the work of salvation?
The church at Smyrna seemed to be poor and seemed to be in constant difficulty. They were attacked by some Jews who resented their upstart religion. They were even promised more hardship. But this wasn’t the last word. They would one day enter eternal life where such hardship would not even be a memory. And even before that time,they were sustained by the God who could see their true nature despite appearances.
When we look at churches or individuals we might dismiss them as of little use or value. But whereas we see the trash,our God is busily at work spying out the treasure.