A Letter to the Church from a Brother
Revelation 1:9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus…
Patient and endurance are two words that I often want nothing to do with–and who would really blame me? Why be patient when you can find instant gratification, and endurance sounds too much like a marathon and who wants to do that?
If you consider these few, short words that are the beginning of the letters to seven churches which are in the midst of some serious cultural persecution, then maybe they come to life a bit more. Not only was this a time of great persecution for the church, it was a time of great uncertainty. Most likely John was one of the last, if not the very last, disciple living and the church I’m sure was at a time of great uncertainty.
So, what does this have to do with us? I mean we are not in the first century and our lives and culture are vastly different than theirs.
Well, I think there are several principles that are here for us today. The first one I see is the fact that we have brothers and sisters who are in the midst of the tribulations of life with us.
That John makes this simple yet profound statement, “I, John, your brother and partner.” There is a tremendous amount of hope and reassurance when you know that someone is there with you in the midst of pain and heartache. It means even more when that person is your brother or sister who loves you and wants the best for you. Not just someone who will feel bad for you, but someone who will get into the mess with you. That’s what John is saying here. “I’m with you in this heartache and tribulation. I’m your brother and I love you and I am willing getting into the mess with you.”
This is the way that Christ has designed His church to operate. When one hurts, others hurt with him or her. This design was meant to be lived out in the first century as much as it is today. For many the church has become a place where you go to learn or to check off the list of things you are supposed to do. Unfortunately, in making church this we have lost this love and commitment that we see here in John’s words. His words are rooted and grow from a deep love of Jesus and those who make up his church.
I often need reminded that patience and endurance for the believer are found in Jesus.
Patience for the believer is truly a temporary action. We know that one day Jesus will return and we will no longer know the pain and hurt that is this world. This is hope which we hold onto in times of trial; one day all of it will be gone. Endurance is making it to the day that the King who is described in Revelation 1:12-16 returns. (Check out the description of the King in those verses.)
John makes it clear that patience and endurance are found in Jesus. This truth was powerful for our brothers and sisters in the first century, let them have that same power for you. Patience and endurance in the middle of tribulation, heartache and seasons that won’t give up is found in Jesus. He is there, because He is our brother and Savior who loves us and is willing to come into the mess that is often our lives and shoulder the pain and heartache. What hope we have in Jesus.
Lastly, I can’t help but consider the power found in the first six words of this verse. “I, John, your brother and partner.” I really believe John truly loves these people.
I pray that you know this brotherly love and partnership that he describes here.