I didn’t set out to write a series based on Revelation 2-3. As I began reading the book of Revelation during my quiet times, I wanted to find truths written to the churches that apply for my life. What came from that desire to find one thing in each letter . . . is this series.
The churches to whom John wrote dealt with many of the same issues we face in an increasingly godless culture. Just as the early churches made choices about whether they would live for Jesus or themselves, so too, do we.
We have the gift of being able to look at back at their strengths and weaknesses and learn from them.
This isn’t an in-depth theological rendering of these letters. Rather, each post reflects what God has taught me through studying both the letters and the churches. As we walk through Revelation two and three over the next seven weeks, I hope you’ll be encouraged and share your thoughts here! Past posts can be found here: Revelation Series
Have you ever felt small, insignificant? If you’ve read enough of my blogposts, you know this is a struggle I’ve grappled with over many years.
That sense of, no matter what I do that is good, helpful, significant, worthy of notice, it’s not enough to actually get noticed.
The question becomes, who am I seeking to be noticed by?
The truth is, God sees.
He sees the things I do—both positive and negative. And He sees the heart motives that drive the actions. He knows me inside and out.
Thyatira was the smallest of the seven churches Jesus wrote to. One thing that stood out as I read Jesus’ words to this church is that, after He describes Himself to them, the first thing He says is, “I know your deeds . . .”
Jesus saw the love they shared for each other. He knew their good deeds, their perseverance, their patience. And He praised them.
Though the church had a lot of good going on, there were problems too. How like today’s churches! We’re an imperfect body of believers.
On the outside, this church looked like they had it all together. On the inside corruption corroded the integrity of the body. There was a woman (or perhaps a group of women, scholars aren’t certain) who proclaimed herself to be a prophetess.
And the believers in the church accepted this title for her. Jesus calls her Jezebel, associating her with the Jezebel of the Old Testament.
Jezebel’s false teachings encouraged believers to engage in eating food offered to idols and sexual immorality. These teachings lured believers into a place of compromise and sin.
Today we aren’t as concerned with eating food sacrificed to idols, but idol worship is still rampant. We don’t worship Diana or Ares or Zeus.
We worship money, power, prestige, and other worldly values.
We sacrifice time and relationships to attain status and the notice of the “important people.” To gain acceptance and satisfaction.
We sell ourselves out for the hope of the world’s accolades. Most of us don’t move in “world-shakers” realms. But we do move within the sphere of influence God has placed us.
What are our aspirations within this group of people?
Jesus knew His people would live among those who worshiped idols. Those who were powerful. He knew the believers of Thyatira lived among the business-savvy of their day.
The thing He held against the people of this church was that they did nothing to stop this “prophetess” from proclaiming her false doctrine. Instead, they tolerated her teachings.
They may not have been permitted to take legal action in their society. But they could have taken action within the church and excommunicate her.
This challenges me. It’s easy to live with my eyes focused in on my small world—my family, and those in my inner-circle.
I might hear those who teach doctrines that don’t align with God’s word. My solution is simple: stay away from them.
Is this enough?
After reading God’s words to Thyatira, I realize that my responsibility is more than avoidance. No, I may not be able to stop people from teaching things that contradict God’s word.
But, I can pray for those who hear the words. I can pray for opportunities to share God’s truth with some who may be confused.
I need to know God’s word well enough to be able to share its truth when people speak lies to me, or to those around me.
I must be willing to face conflict to uphold God’s truth.
It’s all a little—no, a lot—scary to me. I don’t like conflict. Just sayin’.
As I consider Jesus’ words to Thyatira, there’s comfort in knowing Jesus sees His followers. He knows them—heart, mind, soul, and spirit.
He sees the things we do that are good. He knows the things we do that compromise His word. And Jesus calls us to live holy—whole-ly—before Him.
May we have hearts that want God to show us when we are doing something wrong, believing something inaccurate. Having a heart open to Him will be a safeguard to falling into believing false teaching.
What about you? What do you do when you hear false teaching espoused and lifted up? How do you live holy?