Summary: We are called to be a loving body that accepts all people where they stand, however, the example of Thyatira shows that lines must be drawn for the health of that loving body.
THE CHURCH THAT TOLERATES.
Since God created the human race, Satan has taken an active aggressive role against the human race. His goal is to divide and destroy. He wants to seduce us away from the protective arms of our Creator so that he can drag us away to share in his eternal destiny. We have seen his work throughout history. We see that in the Garden of Eden Satan seduced Adam and Eve, convincing them that it would be better to “…be like God…” rather than to know God on a personal level. We also see this in the history of the nation of Israel. Their relationship with God was much like a roller coaster. At one point they were close to the Lord God and the next point they were worshiping false idols. Satan was constantly at work leading them away from the worship of the true God. As we come into the New Testament, we see that God has provided a way of escape for our sins. However, despite this provision, the work of the Devil has not been hindered. In the first century, he worked in the mind of the Roman king, Nero, and made him think that he himself was a god. As a result, Nero slaughtered Christians on a daily basis. Working our way up through history in the early part of this millenium Satan was able to work his way into the organized church and seduced its leaders with power and money. This led to the crusades, which in my opinion was one of the bleakest, darkest points in history of the Christian church.
These are just a few ways in which Satan has attacked the church of Christ. But today I believe he is taking a more subtle approach in his offensive. Though this tactic is subtle, I believe that it is one of the most aggressive attacks the church has experienced in a very long time. This attack comes in the form of pressure from our society to accept and tolerate sin. Unfortunately, this has erupted recently with the horrible incident in Wyoming with the brutal death of a young man who was killed supposedly because he was a homosexual. (Matthew Shepard) Because of that terrible incident, accusing fingers have been pointed to conservative Christian institutions such as Focus on the Family. These are institutions that hold to a true biblical conservative belief of God’s Word. I want to address this contemporary issue and compare it to this letter in Revelation two. What happens when we tolerate sin in our church? I think that question can be answered as we study this letter to the church in Thyatira.
First, let us look at what this church had that is blessed of God. We see this in verse 19, Jesus tells them “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience, and as for your works, the last are more than the first.” We see here that this is a very loving church. It was very comfortable to be a part of their worship service, which can be a very good trait for a church. But the problem that this church had was that it was too accepting and too patient with the things that were going on within this church. What this church lacked was a sensitivity to sin. Look in verse 20 “Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and to eat things sacrificed to idols. So what is the problem with tolerance? Tolerance is a concept that is being pushed and taught in our society today. And this worldview that is being so promoted in our communities today has no business being a part of our churches, at all. Now, before I explain myself to you, I want to point out that there are two aspects of tolerance. First, there is the tolerance of persons. When you’re addressing the issue concerning tolerance of persons, I feel that there is no room for that type of tolerance in the church. You ask, “Why?” Because if you are sitting in a pew and merely tolerating the person sitting next to you, that is inappropriate activity for a Christian. I was reading in the Gospels recently about how Christ washed the disciple’s feet and I learned how washing another person’s feet was the lowliest activity that a Jew could perform on another person. This is the attitude we must have in our church toward one another. If you a just merely tolerating the person beside you then you have a problem. We are not called to tolerate each other we’re called to serve each other and to minister to each other and to build each other up.