Have you ever faced a tragedy that tested your faith? Or, maybe you know someone who lost faith in the midst of a crisis? Similarly, churches have wavered in their faith because of pressure to compromise. The amazing thing is how often in history churches undergoing persecution have actually grown stronger.
A Revitalized Church knows the presence of the Lord and is unwavering in faith even when tested. The church at Smyrna is a good example of a church that demonstrates an unwavering faith when under pressure. Jesus’ message to this church gives some basic principles for being unwavering in faith. He begins with a reminder of who He is. And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life (Rev. 2:8).
Revitalized churches must have unwavering faith that focuses on Jesus Christ as the First and Last. Knowing and remembering that Jesus has the beginning and the end under His control is a great foundation for never wavering in faith. It does not mean our faith will not be tested. Jesus warned the church at Smyrna that staying strong would not be easy,
I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan (Rev. 2:9).
The reality is almost all churches will face some form of tribulation. It may simply be financial trials or even moral failures in leadership. And, most churches are not rich. Some churches are slandered. Some of the slander comes as a result of our biblical stands on such things as abortion. In revitalization you need to be ready for criticism and nay sayers.
One of the biggest fears in the process of revitalization is the internal fear of giving up control and change. A revitalized church is able to be unwavering in faith by putting the focus on Jesus Christ. When the focus of the church is on who Jesus is it will be able to be unwavering.
Revitalized churches need an unwavering faith that overcomes fear. When a church begins to accept the reality that they must have a radical change it naturally generates a degree of fear. Change is often one of the most feared things in churches that are in a stage of complacency. Jesus told the church at Smyrna, Do not fear what you are about to suffer (Rev. 2:10). Their suffering was coming from attacks from the outside. However, the words Do not fear can be applied to many circumstances in life. The revitalization process often creates a significant fear and faith is tested. Thus, revitalization calls for us to trust Christ's words, do not be afraid.
Unwavering faith is demonstrated by faithfulness. The church at Smyrna was warned, Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life (Rev. 2:10). A revitalized church may not be facing prison but it will be tested. Revitalization does not happen without struggles. One major test will be having the patience required to discovering God’s vision and plan. Once you have a vision it will require faithfulness to follow the plan and a willingness step out in faith the plan needs adjustment.
The Lord promised this church, I will give you the crown of life. Unwavering faith in revitalization looks beyond the immediate and anticipates God's rewards and blessings. Revitalization will test your endurance and patience. Unwavering faith provides the sustaining power that is essential for revitalization.