Streets of Philadelphia
What is your favorite genre of music?
For me, I love the 80’s and the 90’s. These were epic decades of ballads that were legendary with artists and moments that left a mark and one of those was Bruce Springsteen. In 1994 he released a song titled “Streets of Philadelphia” which described a personal struggle that someone could have when looking within and admitting where they were in life. In truth, all of us have been there as it’s a part of who we’ve become. This message is massive as we move forward through the chapters of life seeking to be the best we can be. We all want to feel like we count for something, which leads us to search for more; therefore, I believe a big step forward in this discovery is when we leave denial and face reality. This is where God can do miracles and change us from the inside out.
This is what we want and Jesus is there do it.
When I think of this song and its message, I think of Christ-followers and what He’s asked us to do. In the famous book of Revelation, Jesus revealed insights to seven churches and how we can learn from them today. He corrected and applauded six of them as He detailed their efforts and their errors. What’s intriguing about this is that only one of the churches wasn’t corrected and that was the church of Philadelphia. This church was known as “The Faithful Church” or the “Church of Love” and this connects to us today.
In describing this church, Jesus shares this encouragement in Revelation 3:11-12.
“I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name.”Revelation 3:11-12
Notice Jesus emphasizing, “hold on to what you have” because the results are powerful.
We’ll have a crown. We’ll be pillars in His house and we’ll never leave it. Our names will be written by God in His city and we will have His new name. Sounds good to me! Yet, this happens when we hold on to what we have. This church did that, thus they were rewarded for it. There’s no coincidence that this all happened because they were known as the “Church of Love.” For us today, we must be full of His love. This is our hallmark trait in Jesus and it’s how others will see Christ through us. However, this is how we’re attacked the most too. Over and over again the plot of the enemy is the same. Wedge division, cause strife, bicker over nonsense, use jealousy, envy and competition to isolate, and use pride as the factor of comparing and wanting to be better than others. These are massive areas where churches and Christ followers get tripped up and it hurts our love walk. These things are devious and deadly to the life and vitality of not only our faith but also for our churches. We must protect our hearts from this poison, so that the love of God shines through us.
So, what are you known for? What is your church known for? Above all else, God wants us to be known for our love. It this developed fruit in our lives that quenches the darkness and shines His light for all to see. It’s this developed fruit where our faith thrives and grows. It’s this developed fruit where we stay clean and healthy with ourselves and with others. When we’re full of His love, we forgive people, we prefer people, we share with people, we serve people and we give to people. These are signs we’re walking in the love of God. On the flip side, if these are not happening or they’re becoming harder for us, then it could be a sign our love walk is struggling, thus we need filled up. In fact, we will always need filled up with more of God. This empowers us to continually seek God, to develop our relationship with Him, and to be changed in the process. No one is above this as we all are in desperate need of Him. Without Him, we’re left to our narcissistic ways, but with Him, we can be transformed into a love-filled person.
Isn’t this basic and hard at the same time? Our greatest fight is one within ourselves as we seek to keep our hearts straight! It’s resisting being better than others, or being dogmatic about doctrine, style and presentation. It’s keeping the main thing our focus so that we are fruitful and growing. It’s pursuing Jesus above all else, so that we are changed in His love. It’s choosing to do what He wants above so we have what He has. This is the power of His love!
So, what would happen if every Christ follower and every church was filled with His love?
Everything would change! We would seek what we could give verses what we would get. We would see others as the treasure of God and reach them. We would collaborate with other churches and Christ followers for others to be saved. Grudges would be non-existent and forgiveness would abound. We would see cities won for God and communities being changed. We wouldn’t let political issues divide us and we would reach all kinds of people. We would be pro-active in solving problems and give hope where there isn’t any. Racism would be healed within the church so we could model for others what unity looks like. This is possible and this is the potential we have when we are a “Church of Love.”
This is what we’re fighting for. This is our goal and this is our mandate! So, I encourage you to decide today to be full of the love of God. Choose to fight for your heart to be love-filled. Choose to be mighty for Jesus by being humble at His feet. Determine to be a champion for God by being a servant to all. This is our moment and we can’t waste any more time on the trivial. Our moment is now and we’ve been called for more! We’ve been called to love!
I believe in you and I know God can do amazing things through your life.
Have a great week and the best is yet to come,