Summary: Letter to the Church at Thyratira
You and I may seldom think about it…which seems strange, because it will be the biggest event in the history of humankind: that is, the return of Jesus to gather His people. But that’s His promise. The Bible is clear that there is a divine purpose and a plan for us and for the world---in other words, history is moving towards a goal. According to Scripture, eternity awaits the end of history, both heaven and hell, and the God Who created you and me and loves us passionately, sent His Son so that you and I could spend that eternity with Him. That’s a pretty big deal. And that’s why Jesus writes these seven letters to the churches; to make sure that they are ready when He comes.
This letter to the Church at Thyratira is the longest letter but it is written to the smallest church. But unlike the other churches in Revelation, it is not threatened by persecution. In that way and other ways, it is much like the church in America today. The city of Thyratira was a very progressive city where just about everything was accepted, tolerated or embraced. Even the Christians were tolerated, in part, at least because the church in Thyratira had apparently adopted the culture’s attitude of uncritical tolerance. They had become careless and began to lose their unique identity as Jesus followers. That is the first charge in this letter from Christ; that they were tolerating ungodly behavior and beliefs, which, as I think about it, is a pretty good definition for sin.
And contained in this single letter, are six great truths about God that can help us to be ready when Christ does come.
1. God is serious about SIN. The church at Thyratira had a lot going for it. There were lots of good things going on—lots of positives to report. But amid all that activity, the Lord sounds a warning; an alarm with all the urgency of trying to avoid a disaster. I immediately think of the stall warning on an airplane. If the pilot is flying the plane too slowly, an alarm goes off to avoid a stall and a disaster. Today, planes as well as cars have all sorts of warning alarms; proximity warnings, crossing the center line warning, falling asleep at the wheel warning, and on and on. All intended to avoid a catastrophe where lives are lost.
The trouble in Thyratira was that they knew Jezebel was teaching things contrary to the Word of God, and they were just ignoring it. They were tolerating it. They just didn’t want to deal with it since they had so many other good things going. They felt they could tolerate a little sin. How serious could that be? After all, how could one thing matter all that much?
We say the same thing, don’t we? About the church or about our lives. There are lots of good things we’re doing…more good things than bad things. We can tolerate a few sins here and there. I mean, how serious can that be?
Most of you remember watching the shuttle Columbia making its final descent on their way home. They were almost home. And there were a lot of things right---thousands of things right in fact, and only one, maybe two things wrong, but the results were devastating. Sin matters. However much we may want to dismiss or ignore those few things in our lives that are un-Christ-like or that are clearly contrary to God’s Word, Sin matters. Even a little gossip can destroy a life. Even a little judgmental attitude and can damage a soul. Even a little self righteousness can destroy a witness. A little ill temper or cruel words can destroy a marriage. Being too selfish or stingy with God’s resources can hurt people, and even a little lack of compassion can wreak havoc. A little lying, a little dishonesty what can it hurt? It’s easy to tolerate just a little sin in our lives, isn’t it?
Many of you know that I’m a technology dinosaur, but I recognize the wonder and blessing that technology can be. But it has also ushered in an entire new era of sin and brokenness and addiction. It has in some ways, made our existence much more anonymous. More people are addicted to online pornography than any drug. More marriages are wrecked by a husband or wife looking for and finding old flames or new interests online. And believe it or not, one of the top things I have counseled people about in the past ten years are folks whose marriages are on the verge of collapse because the husband or the wife was texting other people in ways that they had to hide it from their spouse. And they argued that they weren’t committing adultery; that it really wasn’t infidelity because it wasn’t physical. It was just texting….what’s so wrong with that?