The Church of Thyatira

Song: This I Believe

Artist: Hillsong

18 “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Thyatira…19 “I know all the things you do. I have seen your love, your faith, your service, and your patient endurance. And I can see your constant improvement in all these things. 20 “But I have this complaint against you.You are permitting that woman—that Jezebel who calls herself a prophet—to lead my servants astray…”

from Revelation 2:18-29

In a world…

Trade guilds were a major feature of life in Thyatira, an economic hub. And every guild had a patron deity. Christians who were in this world of commerce would be expected to pay homage to these gods – festive occasions characterized by all sorts of immoral activities. To abstain could lead to economic persecution and hardship. To participate fully was to compromise Christian conviction and witness.

No surprise, then, that the teaching of ‘Jezebel’ was so appealing (v 20). This group of false teachers were preaching a Christianity that allowed for a bit of compromise with the idolatrous aspects of pagan society.

They claimed a kind of insider knowledge that allowed them to juggle their pagan practices with their Christian convictions. They called it “deeper truths;” Jesus called it the “depths of Satan” (v 24).

Compromise is slippery like that. In this case it masquerades as a bit of Christian liberty.

These letters – and the book of Revelation as a whole – are a vivid picture of our lives as Christians. We’re like whales in the ocean – there’s water all around us, but we breathe a different air.

Maybe we’ve forgotten. Maybe we’ve grown comfortable with the systems and priorities of the world around us. After all, it’s the water we live in. But these letters in Revelation invite us to reexamine our lives and our Christian community. Water may be the world we live in, but it’s not the air we breathe. We breathe Jesus (v 25-26).

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