The AMI QT Devotionals from May 22-28 are written by Phillip Chen, college pastor intern at Church of Southland. Philip, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, is currently studying at Talbot School of Theology. He is married to Esther.
DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY
Revelation 2:18-28 (ESV): “And 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. 19 “‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. 20 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. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. 22 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,23 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. 24 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. 25 Only hold fast what you have until I come. 26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, 27 and he will rule[c] them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father.28 And I will give him the morning star. 29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
One of the highest virtues of society these days is tolerance. A popular phrase “You do you” perpetuates this line of thinking: basically, this phrase means that you should do whatever you want to do, think however you want to think, and be whoever you want to be without fear of judgment. While I get the sentiment of this phrase, I also feel that it has spiraled out of control, particularly in our social landscape where tolerance is highly prized. Several months ago, a famous NBA player Kyrie Irving came out to say that he believed the earth was flat—what a shocking statement! The more shocking fact was that many came to his defense and said that if he believed it were true, then no one should be able to discredit his beliefs. Absolute truth has been discarded as something in the past, and relativism seems to be the popular belief that society holds to now.
Even within the church, there has been shifting views, where absolute truth that has always been held in the past have started to be questioned and discarded. Because tolerance has been celebrated as an important pillar of our society, oftentimes it can be mistakenly equated to love: love is tolerance, tolerance is love. Today’s passage shows us that the church in Thyatira struggled with this as well. Jesus commends this church for being full of love, faith, service and patient endurance. They are fulfilling their purpose as a church that extends love. However, when we look at the indictment against this church, we realize that they have been tolerating sin and wrong teaching; this teaching spread quickly, leading many astray. And this is all for the sake of love—and Jesus is not pleased with that.
This same struggle exists within the church today. Do we need to open the door wider (to the point of potentially sacrificing sound doctrine) so that we can love more people and give them a chance to come into the kingdom of God? Do we need to sacrifice love to hold true to the sound doctrine, guarding the faith and keeping it pure? It’s interesting to see that the church in Ephesus was faithful to sound doctrine and was zealous in chasing out heretical teaching—but they struggled with love. On the other hand, the church in Thyatira was the exact opposite: it was commended for its love and hospitality, but condemned for its tolerance of wrong teaching. One thing I appreciate about the “radical middle” approach is that one doesn’t need to be sacrificed for the other. We must earnestly pursue love – loving one another and loving those who believe differently from us—but we must also earnestly pursue faithful teaching, maintaining sound doctrine and purity in the faith, not tolerating sin and causing others to stumble. It’s an incredibly difficult thing to do, and I believe this struggle won’t end any time soon. However, our Lord encourages us: “hold fast until I come.” May our churches seek to love others and reach out to a decaying world while still holding to sound doctrine! May we be people who hold love and truth near to our hearts as we seek to minister to this world!
Prayer: Father God, at times it seems so difficult to hold to the truth of Your Word when the world seems to reject what You have spoken. Although we desire to love people so that more and more may enter into Your Kingdom, we realize how difficult it may be to speak the truth in love. Help us in our weakness. Help us to be people who pursue love while we pursue truth. Enable us persevere to the end, even when our message goes against popular opinion. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Deuteronomy 22