Sermons

Summary: What happens when a church begins to tolerate just a little bit of evil? The study is a consideration of this particular question.

“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.’” [1]

“Eating fly eggs, rodent hairs, mould and fecal matter may sound a lot like a challenge on Fear Factor, but it is just an episode of daily life. Unintended additives squirm, crawl, fly and plop into much of what we put in our mouths.” [2] These “unintended additives” are so common that the FDA has issued a handbook listing Food Defect Action Levels. As examples of such “unintended additives,” note that the FDA allows twenty or fewer maggots of any size per one hundred grams of drained mushrooms, or five or more maggots two millimeters or longer per one hundred grams. Similarly, the FDA allows the “average of mold count” up to twelve percent of apples and pears. Peanut butter can have no more than an average of one rodent hair per one hundred grams. Food products can contain a certain amount of “foreign matter,” a term that includes cigarette butts. Cinnamon bark, bay leaves and cocoa beans can all contain a specified amount of animal feces.

Tomato sauce can contain no more than fifteen fruit fly eggs and one or more maggots per one hundred grams. Peanut butter may contain up to twenty-five mg of grit per one hundred grams. Up to forty thrips, insects that are also known as thunderflies, are allowed per one hundred grams of asparagus. Fish may contain up to sixty parasitic cysts per one hundred grams of fish. The FDA allows up to 325 insect fragments, including bug feces, per ten grams of ground thyme. [3] The “Yuck Factor” is significant when we begin to examine what we put into our mouth. Somehow, a child putting dirt in her mouth doesn’t seem all that terrible in light of what we consume on a daily basis.

Now, you will be able to go home and enjoy your lunch after services, won’t you? Seriously, contamination appears to be a part of life. Perhaps the only way to avoid eating unsavoury food components is to stop eating all together. Dr. Manfred Kroger, professor of food sciences at Pennsylvania State University, says, “Let’s face it, much of our food comes from nature, and nature is not perfect.” [4]

While contamination is a part of daily life, even if such contaminants are usually not recognised, contamination must never be permitted to become a part of spiritual life. Spiritual contamination is a very serious issue for the Living God who demands purity in His people. Undoubtedly, each of us has read the admonition, “As he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” [1 PETER 1:15-16]. In the text before us, the Risen Lord confronts a congregation that had begun to tolerate evil. God was quite specific in exposing what had become acceptable in that assembly, speaking of His reaction to Christian tolerance.

DIVINE COMMENDATION — “I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first” [REVELATION 2:19]. As we read these letters to the churches of Asia, we observe a pattern, a pattern that should encourage each follower of Christ the Master. Wherever possible, the Risen Saviour commends His people. That is true in this instance, as it is in other letters to the churches in Asia. The Church in Thyatira is commended for her works, her love, her faith, her service and her patient endurance. Moreover, what the congregation had been doing was not a static work—it was increasing.

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