Letters from Jesus: Thyatira

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Jesus is not harmless.

His letter to the church in Thyatira, a church that had followed a bad teacher into sexual sin and worshiping idols, makes that clear. Jesus will destroy people who seduce His slaves, His followers, into sin through their teaching (if they don’t repent).

Jesus is both the Lion and the Lamb, and while some generations may have forgotten the Lamb part, ours forgets the ferocity of the sin-hating, Satan-crushing Lion.

Jesus’ letter to Thyatira reads this way:

“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. Only hold fast what you have until I come. The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Let me tell you what I think the “Jezebel” in this letter (not her real name, but the name of the wife an Old Testament king who led God’s people into idol-worship) might sound like today:
-“Listen, guys, I know this might sound weird to hear from a church leader, but everyone lives together before they get married today. God understands the way things are. If you want to live together to get to know each other and you have a relationship with Jesus, who am I to judge?”
-“We can’t expect to be totally different from the world.”
-“As Christians, we have freedom. Don’t let anybody tell you what you can do with your body.”

Like all believable lies, this woman’s teaching probably had a grain of truth to it. We shouldn’t arrogantly judge unbelievers or believers (but we should rightly judge them and discern their actions). We shouldn’t totally remove from or disengage the world (but we should know that God is calling us out from it and ultimately remaking it). We do have freedom (but the freedom to be a slave to Christ as opposed to being a slave of sin).

When we watch people getting naked on a TV screen or in a movie theater, we are engaging in public sexual sin. And when we hang Pittsburgh Steelers flags all over our house and car but never talk about Jesus to our neighbors or co-workers, we are engaging in public idolatry. And neither of these is “normal” or “okay.” But the Jezebels of the world will always try to make us think that they are.

They care little for holiness, and (ultimately) little for pleasing Christ.

Jesus made clear in each of His 7 letters to churches in Revelation that He loves and cares for and desires His people, those who will repent and believe in Him. But that love is fierce, not the shallow, feckless, boneless thing that usually passes for love/tolerance in our culture.

Jesus’ love for His Father and His people causes Him to destroy deceivers.

The Jesus who can save us gave this lying woman time to repent of her deception. He wanted her to turn from her ways. From cheating Jesus-followers into a life of sins that then they would have to answer for.

But if she wouldn’t, He would end her.

Because allowing evil lies to pass as Christian truth, or allowing unrepentant sins, in your church isn’t loving.

Should we be patient? Yes. Forgive? Always. Use wisdom and be careful about picking our battles? Absolutely.

But allowing, over the long haul, the evil to obliterate the weak or easily deceived isn’t loving. It’s apathy, fear, or misguided sentiment.

Real love fights for the truth, its Author, and those who depend on it.

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