In chapter two we find the letters to the seven churches beginning. There are four in this chapter and three in the next. Each has a similar format of celebrating what they are doing well, then looking at the growth area. The common area of mistake is when we try to figure out which of the churches out current church is. These churches are not offered as a checklist for us to determine which one is us. We are all of these churches.
Any church fits into any of the celebrations and growth edges offered here in Revelation. We could all use to walk more closely with our first love, we must all be ready to persevere in persecution, we all have people teaching things contrary to God, and we all have people who we know to be leading people astray, yet we allow them to do it. So why include the letters?
The first reason is the writer was told to include them as a part of the vision given by God. This by itself is a good enough reason, but there is more. In these letters we find ourselves. In finding ourselves we find that the struggles of the church have not really changed over the centuries. Our modes of functioning have changed, and different times have highlighted different challenges, but overall, the church is still the church, people are still people, and God is still God.
Once again, and we will see this several times in Revelation, the details are not to be the tripping point. We focus on details because we have been trained most of our lives to look at details. The original audience would not have been looking for details, rather they would look for the overarching message. So what is it? Jesus is telling us to pay attention. Those who have ears to hear... that means those who are willing to really take a look. Those who are preparing themselves for the coming days. Often people say God is not speaking, what that often translates to is I do not like what God is saying. In other words, many people do not have the ears to hear.
Are we paying attention? Do we have ears to hear? Or are we caught in the details that really do not matter?