We just got back from a retreat with our college learning community. Rhys Bezzant is hoping to stitch together spiritually sustainable Christian leaders who are prepared for the long haul of a life of adversity. He took us through two studies on Jesus’ letters to the church of Smyrna and the church of Pergamum.
Session 1: Revelation 2:8-11
Challenge: Commit your whole life to Christian ministry, not just 5 or 10 years.
- The two commands to the church in Smyrna are Do not fear and Be faithful. How do we identify and deal with a church in fear? How do we guard against fear?
- How have we been slandered? How have we slandered others? How do we deal with these?
- How do we respond to people’s suffering and prepare people for suffering? How do we face crises ourselves?
Session 2: Revelation 2:12-17
Challenge: Make your ministry a word ministry.
- The church in Pergamum is a real mixed bag of competing spiritual commitments (while the church in Ephesus is too strict, this church is too permissive). In navigating spiritual terrain, what I gravitate towards will be my greatest strength and greatest weakness: am I more likely to focus on doctrine or ethics?
- In this passage, sexuality is not a private matter but a question of corporate spiritual allegiance. How do we deal with sexuality? How can we develop a constructive/positive theology of sexuality?
- This passage focuses intently on identity and allegiance. It speaks of delayed gratification and future reward in the face of cravings for satisfaction now and quick spiritual highs. What am I teaching people to expect, and what am I myself expecting? Am I owning my own particular temptation: money, sex, power?
Arthur Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.