Thursday, December 10, 2020

The church that loved too much (Revelation 2:18-28)

 Any similarity between the church in Thyatira and present-day churches that overlook blatant heresy in the name of "love" is hardly coincidental. The church in Thyatira is the opposite extreme of the church in Ephesus. Whereas Ephesus is commended for its commitment to truth and rebuked for its lack of love, Thyatira is commended for its "love and faith and service and patient endurance" but rebuked for tolerating "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."

Thyatira is the church that loved too much. Its leaders are apparently too weak to resist the manipulations of "Jezebel," a particularly despicable woman whose name is a reference back to the wicked queen who, along with her husband King Ahab, instituted Baal worship in Israel at the time of Elijah. Calling herself a "prophetess," she has been given free reign in Thyatira to lead people astray into what appears to have been an idolatrous cult that glorified sexual immorality. There is nothing remotely Christ-like in her teachings or in the Thyatiran church tolerating her under the guise of "love."

Just as truth divorced from love leads to legalism, love divorced from truth leads to licentiousness. Both will ultimately lead to death. For the church to thrive and be a faithful witness for Christ (and thus a threat to the fallen order called "Babylon" throughout Revelation), it must keep truth and love in proper balance. Only then will it create an environment of grace in which true and loving disciples can be consistently made and nurtured.

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