Thursday, October 3, 2013

Holding On For Dear Life

We’re in a series now called “Be the Church,” looking at the seven letters to the churches in Revelation 2-3.  I have to say, of the seven, the letter to Thyatira (Rev. 2:18-29) is the hardest for us as 21st century Christians to read.  Remember, these letters are dictated by Jesus to His old apostle John, and it’s hard for us to reconcile some of the things Jesus says in this particular letter with the image we have of Him as a gentle, kind-hearted person who never got angry.  Perhaps it indicates that our image of Him isn’t entirely accurate.  Perhaps we should recall that Jesus got angry enough with hypocritical religious folks that He called them names like "sons of snakes" and "whitewashed tombs."  Perhaps we should recall that he got angry enough at seeing merchandise take over the temple of God that He made a whip out of cords and forcibly, violently drove the money changers out.  Jesus loves you and me more than we can ever comprehend.  In fact, He loves us so much He gets angry at the stuff that hurts us.  In this letter, we read the anger He felt toward a faction that was destroying His church...and see His instruction to the faithful remnant that had so far resisted compromise with evil.  

We live in a time when to be truly Christian is much less culturally popular than it once was.  How do we keep from drifting away from Christ?    Years ago, I became pastor of the little church I had grown up in.  Carrie and I lived in a parsonage that was right across a little country road from the church, less than fifty yards from building to house.  One night early in my time there, I left Sunday night worship and started walking home.  Once I got out of the church’s parking lot, I realized I had a problem. It was dark!  I had lived in the city for several years, and I had forgotten how absolutely dark it gets in the country.  I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face.  I lost my bearings, wasn’t sure whether I was headed in the right direction or not.  I started thinking, “What if I stumble into a ditch?”  So I literally got down on my hands and knees and started feeling my way toward the house. Then it hit me: What if I crawl right into a snake?  Copperheads are very common there.  So I quickly stood back up and walked very slowly toward the house.  I made it, but from then on, whenever we left the house, we turned on the porch light.  Jesus has told us that we are the Light of the World.  We’re commanded to let our light shine so people will see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven.  There is darkness all around us; let’s not forget to keep our lights on.  How do we do this?  How do we make sure we can withstand the pressure and won’t compromise? 

We find great encouragement and instruction in this letter to a church 2000 years ago.  We'll talk about it this Sunday. 

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