Summary: Discover how to overcome the dangers of bending too far in a threatening culture.
As a boy one of our favorite fun activities was riding tree saplings, much like you would a wild horse. This is how it worked. We would bend a 3 or 4 inch sapling to the ground. A friend would help us hold the tree while we climbed aboard. After sitting astraddle the sapling the tree was released from its bent position. We experienced a short but wild ride. One day I learned a painful but memorable lesson. On this particular day the sapling broke as I was at the peak of my ride. I went crashing to the ground and had my first encounter with having the breath knocked from me. In playing that game, as in life, it is possible to bend too far.
In Revelation 2:12-17 we find a church that bent too far. The church was the church at Pergamum. "And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, `These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword: "I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. "But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. "Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. `Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth. "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.’’ The church was the church at Pergamum. Jesus commeded the church at Pergamum for remaining faithful to Jesus. However he criticzed them for tolerating the false teachers who taught the doctrine of Balaam and those called the Nicolaitans. From this text we learn some valuable principles that will help us avoid bending too far. Look with me at our text.
1. Principle: determine to overcome difficult situations. The believers at Pergamum faced a difficult
situation. Jesus said they dwelt near Satan’s throne. This phrase referred to the cultic Roman empire in which they lived. It was a tough situation. We learn a coupe of valuable lessons that will help us face challenging situations.
A. God does not shelter us from difficulty. The believers at Pergamum faced difficulty. Throughout the Bible we find God’s people facing difficult situations.
-Adam and Eve faced a servent in the Garden.
-Moses faced the trials of living in Pharoah’s home and the desert experience.
-David faced temptation with Bathshea.
- Jeremiah faced a "cistern" experience.
B. God does not shelter you from difficult situations; however, he wants to give you victory in your situation.
2. Principle: do not let compromise rob you of your blessings. Jesus said the church at Pergamum was compromised by the false teachers. Those believers experienced the Lord’s displeasure over their compromise. Compromise will still rob you of blessings today.
A. In this text we discover a sobering truth concerning compromise. The believers at Pergamum were judged by the things they tolerated. If I understand this correctly, this means we will be judged for the things we allow (in the name of tolerance). We should be tolerant of people but intolerant of the sin they espouse. This is a good case for fighting such things as abortion, same sex marriages and an alcohol free community.
B. The sad truth about compromise is that it will come back to haunt you when allowed to have its way.
Illustration: Several years ago a young American Olympic skater (Tonya Harding) chose the route of compromise. She attempted to have her strongest competitor (Nancy Kerrigan) crippled. Tonya Harding thought she could get ahead by compromising her convictions. However, she came out the loser. Her compromise came back to haunt her.
3. Principle: be faithful to Jesus wherever you do. The church at Pergamum was faithful to their faith but unfaithful to their convictions. They needed to learn to be faithful wherever they went.
A. Jesus is looking for champions who will be faithful in their testimony and convictions wherever they go.
B. Ultimately, Jesus opinion is the one that matters.
Illustration: Millions of people have watched, in recent years, as the American idol contestants displayed their talents. Everyone who watches the competition has a favorite contestant. However, when all is said and done the only people who matter are the judges.