Am I On the Right Side?
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. Revelation 2:9
While playing college football, I once took a blow to the head during a home game. I don’t remember the hit, but I do remember that everything I saw turned red. As the home team, we were wearing our purple jerseys and so, as the play ended, I looked to the sideline, saw reddish, dark colored jerseys, and ran that way. When I got to the sideline and stood amongst my supposed teammates, my vision cleared up enough to realize all the jerseys around me were white. I was on the wrong sideline and everyone on the visiting team was staring at me. I needed to trot across the field to get to the right side. It would have been absurd if I’d have yelled at my teammates across the field, chastising them for being in the wrong place.
It’s obvious in my football story that I was confused and that I was the one who needed to move. It’s not always so obvious in life though. Often, when I read a passage in the Bible, I’m tempted to point it at everyone else. When I read though, I must always ask what the text says and then I must ask what God is saying to me through it. Often though, I’m tempted to skip that second step and jump straight to pointing God’s word at others. I know someone who needs to read this.
Today’s passage is one of those passages. In it, Christ commiserated with the church in Smyrna, lamenting the persecution they suffered at the hands of their fellow Jews who didn’t follow him. These non-Christian Jews thought they followed God and thought they were on the right side, but Jesus referred to them as a synagogue of Satan.
In reading the passage, I’m tempted to point it at those who don’t confess to follow Christ. You’re on the wrong team. You need to get right with God. What is God saying to me through the passage though? To me, it’s a warning to make sure I’m on the right side. Those in the synagogue of Satan thought they were on the right team. They thought they had faith, yet they didn’t follow Christ.
We can think we’re on the right side. We can even say we believe in Jesus. Do we follow him though? Do we live as he commanded? Or do we confess faith but simply follow ourselves? Being on the right side means not simply saying the right things, but making our actions align with what we claim to believe.