Reflections: The Ironies of Philadelphia (or, So You Want To Be a Philadelphian)

When you think of “Philadelphia”, what image comes to mind? When you think of “Laodicea”, what comes to mind? Do you want to be part of the first group or the second?

Irony #1: Throughout history, people have put together timelines to try and prove they were part of the Laodicean era. They wanted to be Laodicean. Why? Because it is in the Laodicean era that Christ returns, according to the era model of believe belief. They saw what they determined was a growing materialistic attitude and surmised they must be in the last days. Simply put, it stemmed from a desire to still be alive when Christ returns.

Irony #2: It is “Philadelphia”. It means “brotherly love”. Love is outgoing concern for others. It is the opposite of pride and boasting about how great you are. I notice it isn’t, “I am proclaiming myself Philadelphian.” A true Philadelphian does not have to boast they are Philadelphian. In fact, a true Philadelphian would be too busy giving brotherly love to have time to worry about whether or not others perceived him or her as such.

Irony #3: It is “Philadelphia”. It means “brotherly love”. It does not mean “doctrinal purity”. True doctrine is a good thing, but it is not the only thing.

Irony #4: It is “Philadelphia”. It means “brotherly love”. Can you love your mother and father and shun them? Doesn’t “love” require a relationship? Does “honor thy father and thy mother” fit into shunning them?

Irony #5: It is “Philadelphia”. It means “brotherly love”. It is cooperation with others as much as possible (Ro 12:18; Heb 12:14). It is the opposite of competition.

Irony #6: It is “Philadelphia”. It means “brotherly love”. Christ said to love one another was a commandment; it is not optional, although some treat it as such.

Irony of Ironies

It is “Philadelphia”. It means “brotherly love”. Why isn’t it “the Church at Agape”? Wouldn’t that make more sense? Why not the “Church of Godly Love”?

Could it be that Christ knew that at the time of the end that love would grow cold? Did He know that brother would turn upon brother? Mother and daughter upon each other? That some would cause others to fail with flatteries instead of true love?

Love is not something that stems from a corporation. Love starts in the heart. Your heart. When the Holy Spirit is implanted within you, it should be urging you and I to serve others. That means sacrifice – a concept that the world no longer understands and it seems that the church is forgetting.

Church groups and organizations are made up of individuals. If the people that gather together have no brotherly love, then neither will the organization.

An organization cannot give you what it does not have. If the people in it are more interested in saving their flesh in the Place of Safety than in becoming spirit in the Kingdom of God, then they cannot give you outgoing concern because they do not have it.

Attitude is what is important overall. You can be forgiven for doing the wrong thing for the right reason much easier than for doing the right thing for the wrong reason. Both are a measure of your character. The real question is, “Right according to Whom?”

If God is love, and we know He is, then it behooves us to be true Philadelphians – not in boastful words but in deeds.

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