The Tolerating Church
To the Church in Thyatira
“To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, except to hold on to what you have until I come.’ To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations— that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’—just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give that one the morning star. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Revelation 2:18-29 NIV
Thyatira was the smallest of the seven Churches Jesus speaks to in the book of Revelation. However, while the smallest it receives the longest letter from Him. This blue collar, factory working town was a hard working tradesman town.
However, like many of the cities of its day, it worshipped false gods. If you had shown up in Thyatira in the first and second century you would have been faced with the pressure that many Christians in that time period were faced with. Adapt to the culture or you will find yourself on the outside of any sense of security and comfort. This city would in modern terms be like a union town. Follow certain expectation and you have the comfort and assurances of being part of the union. You will have work, your life will go well. Step outside of the expectations and you are on your own.
Many Christians in this time were found mixing their faith with the practices of the culture.
Jesus speaks to this Church, telling them He knows what they have done. He knows their works, their love, their service, faith, and their perseverance. If you looked only at this part it would seem like they were doing pretty good. They seemed to be doing it right. Not only were they doing all these things….they were doing more and what they were doing now was greater than in the past. But He makes it clear that all of that is not enough.
He was saying, “I know you are growing but you aren’t healthy.” We think growth means health but one only has to look around to see many things in our culture growing that are not healthy.
Jesus calls them to look at themselves and what they have allowed into their hearts in order to be considered acceptable in their culture. They had learned to tolerate and live with sin as if it was accepted by God as just fine. Sin is never fine with God.
He calls them to repent and follow Him fully. I believe His word remains true to the Church and for our hearts today. What are we excusing in our lives in order to maintain our comforts? What have we mixed of the world into our faith and thereby leaving us powerless to influence our culture?
We must desire to please God and not fit into our culture around us. While trying to reach people we cannot become like them.
We must rightly define sin and not pretend that it can be tolerated in our lives.
We must take a stand for truth.
There is a lot more in this passage but I will conclude with this, while not everyone was tolerating Jesus was clear about what He would do with those who were. He also encouraged those who did not give place to this tolerating Jezebel spirit in their lives or in their Church. He told them to continue to hold on. He was for them. He also let them know He Himself would be their reward. What encouragement from Jesus Himself. When we believe He is enough and we hold onto Him. We get Him. What Great News in a troubled world, in a culture that is upside-down that Jesus is worth any discomfort we will ever be called to face.
Let’s face Him with joy knowing He is our reward.