What If Jesus Wrote a Letter to You?

What If Jesus Wrote a Letter to You?


In Revelation’s 2nd and 3rd chapters, Jesus authored letters to 7 different churches in first-century Asia Minor. In each letter, Jesus declared, “I know your works” (2:2; 2:9; 2:13; 2:19; 3:1; 3:8; 3:15). This repeated statement indicates that Jesus is intimately aware of and deeply concerned about what is happening in His church. It is this awareness that led Jesus to praise the work, attitudes, beliefs, characteristics, and practices of some congregations. However, this knowledge also prompted Jesus to criticize the work, attitudes, beliefs, characteristics, and practices of other congregations. 

In addition to praise and criticism, Jesus also offered a challenge to each congregation. Those churches that received praise were encouraged to persist. Those churches that received criticism were warned of their need to repent. Jesus, in effect, identified what was right or wrong in each congregation. Then, based on that information, He challenged each congregation to either continue on the same path of faithfulness or change their course to prevent judgment. 

While studying these letters, I wondered what Jesus would write: “To the angel of the church at Buford.”

Would Jesus praise us for the soundness of our teaching like He did the church in Ephesus when He said, “I know…how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false” (Revelation 2:2)? Or would He express disappointment over the fact that we are soft on moral issues like the church in Thyatira which was accused of “tolerat[ing] that woman Jezebel, who…is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols” (Revelation 2:20)?

Would Jesus commend us for not conforming to the world despite the influence of Satan over our culture like the church in Pergamon who “[held] fast [His] name” and “did not deny [the] faith” even though they lived “where Satan dwells” (Revelation 2:13)? Or would He condemn us for “committing adultery” against Him like some of the members of the church in Thyatira who compromised their moral purity to make life easier in their guild-driven town (Revelation 2:22)?

Would Jesus be so impressed with how our congregation stewards the resources and opportunities afforded to it that He chooses to “set before [us] an open door,” like He did the church in Philadelphia (Revelation 3:8)? Or would Jesus be so disappointed in our congregation’s attitude of self-sufficiency that He criticizes us for being “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked” like He did the church in Laodicea (Revelation 3:17)?

Would Jesus praise us for our growing involvement in the community, both benevolently and evangelistically, and commend us, as He did to the church in Thyatira because our “latter works exceed the first” (Revelation 2:19)? Or would He criticize us for our diminishing activity, like He did the church in Ephesus, because we “abandoned the love [we] had at first” (Revelation 2:4)? Or, even worse, would He be so disappointed at our lack of activity in the community that He accuses us of being “dead” and instructs us to “Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die” like He did the church in Sardis (Revelation 3:2)? 

Would Jesus recognize our “patient endurance” (Revelation 2:2, 19; 3:10) and discover among us a willingness to endure “tribulation,” “poverty,” imprisonment (Revelation 2:10), and even death (Revelation 2:13) because we are so devoted to Him? Or would Jesus only see “lukewarm” faith that lacks zeal and makes Him want to vomit (Revelation 3:16, 19)?

Would Jesus be so proud of our faithfulness that His challenge for us would be to remain “faithful unto death” (Revelation 2:10) or “hold fast what you have until I come” (Revelation 2:25; 3:11)? Or would Jesus be so disappointed in us because we have accommodated our faith to make it more culturally acceptable and, as a result, feel it necessary to instruct us to “repent” (Revelation 2:5, 16, 22; 3:3, 19)?

What would Jesus say if He were writing a letter “to the church at Buford” today? More importantly, what would Jesus say if He were writing a letter to YOU today? We should not and cannot limit this self-examination just to the local congregation. We must also apply it to ourselves as individuals and families. Paul instructed the Christians in Corinth to “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5). So, I encourage you to consider what Jesus would say if He were writing a letter to YOU today. 

  • Read Revelation chapters 2 and 3. Discuss which of the 7 churches you or your family most identify and why.
  • If Jesus wrote a letter to you individually or your family collectively, what are some things He would praise you for? What are some things He would criticize you for?
  • What practical changes do you and/or your family need to make to ensure that what Jesus sees in you is all praiseworthy?

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