Does God carry a grudge?
I ask the question because of Jesus’ words in Revelation 2, repeated three times: “I have this against you.”
The heart of the Revelation is found in chapters two and three, for there, up front, is what the book is really all about: changing behavior.
The letters of the New Testament usually have the same format. They open by laying a foundation which will encourage the behavioral change specifically desired later in the letter. Revelation however differs. It requires the change first, then details the reasons for change in the rest of the book.
Though they are only two in number, chapters two and three are full of important teaching. First, each body of Christians (a “church”) is as much the Church as all Christians everywhere. Whether at Laodicea or Smyrna or Pergamum, each is called the church. Second, it is possible for a church to lose its status as a church. It’s called, “removing” the candlestick. Jesus is the one who does it and it is behaviorally determined.
Third, there appears to be no individual judgment in this book. Our normal picture of judgment is that we each appear before the judgment seat of God to be evaluated individually. But as Revelation opens, we are judged as a group in our local congregations. This is why congregational membership and involvement is important, and also why we must each assume responsibility for the direction our community body of Christ takes and our participation in that direction.